July 12th, 2024

Man not criminally responsible for gas bar robbery

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on July 9, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man who robbed a gas bar last year was spared a jail sentence after being found not criminally responsible.

Stephen Rene Geworsky pleaded guilty recently in Lethbridge court of justice to one count of robbery, and while he was earlier determined by the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre to be fit enough to instruct his lawyer, he was also found that at the time of the offence, to be suffering from a mental disorder that exempts him from criminal responsibility.

At about 1:15 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2023, Geworsky walked into the Safeway Gas Bar on Fairway Plaza Road South and asked for cigarettes, then threatened the clerks.

“Geworsky forced his way behind the counter and told the two staff members several times that if they called police he would rape and murder them,” Crown Prosecutor Caylene Foley told court.

Geworsky opened the cigarette cabinet, removed several packs worth about $140, then left the store. He walked to the nearby Burger King restaurant, stood by a garbage can on the east side of the building, where police found and arrested him shortly afterward.

“He was clearly under a psychotic illness,” Lethbridge lawyer Darcy Shurtz told the judge. “Even though he did commit this act, I ask the court to find that he is not criminally responsible through a mental disorder.”

Justice Grace Auger accepted the finding, and referred Geworsky to the Alberta Review Board at the request of the Crown and defence. Geworsky will remain in custody under the Mental Health Act until the board ultimately determines when he can be released.

“My doctor…did say it would be at least a year or two probably before I get out,” Geworsky said.

Geworsky, who appeared in court by CCTV from the Calgary Remand Centre, also faced multiple charges of mischief, but they were withdrawn.

“It doesn’t appear to be in the public interest to proceed on the mischiefs,” Foley said.

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