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Robbery, assaults, vandalism nets homeless man 20 months in prison

Noel Larkin went on a crime spree in the fall of 2022

Kamloops courts courthouse

Robbing a downtown convenience store, assaulting two men and causing $20,000 in damage to a shelter has led to a homeless man spending the next 20 months in prison.

Noel Albert Larkin, 27, pleaded guilty to robbery, mischief and assault charges on May 26 in Kamloops provincial court. The charges stemmed from a series of incidents in the fall of 2022. 

Larkin has a borderline mental disability, based on his IQ of 70.

Court heard that on Sept. 28, 2022, Larkin pushed a resident to the ground while staying at Moira House — a shelter under the Halston Bridge in Westmount, run by the Canadian Mental Health Association. The assault left the victim, a man, with six broken ribs. Larkin was agitated and trying to fight a fellow resident when the victim heard a knock at his door, opened it and was pushed to the ground by Larkin, who was later arrested by police.

Days later, on the morning of Oct. 4, 2022, police responded to The Mustard Seed social agency on Victoria Street West downtown, where a man with a bloodied face had reported being attacked by a man later identified as Larkin.

Larkin had approached the man, called him by a different name and asked him if he was a “skinner.” The man said that was not his name and was not familiar with the term, which Larkin said was a word used to describe a pedophile, of which he accused the man of being. Larkin began punching the man in the face. Court heard Larkin stopped and began bouncing around like a boxer, with the victim telling Larkin to finish him off, court heard. Larkin instead allowed the man to continue on into The Mustard Seed.

At about 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2022, while staying at the Emerald Centre shelter on Victoria Street West, Larkin damaged three sprinkler heads in the facility, causing flooding in the building and leading to the evacuation of people staying there.

Court heard Larkin used a ladder to strike one sprinkler head, then stepped on a chair to reach another sprinkler head he hit with his hand. The repair estimate for the damage on the insurance claim came to $20,707.

Then, on Nov. 20, 2022, Larkin was arrested by police for robbing the 7-Eleven store downtown in the 600-block of Seymour Street. He used what appeared to be a firearm, which was later identified as a BB-gun.

At about 5 a.m. on that day, Larkin attempted to leave the store with a two packages of beef jerky, two chocolate bars, a coffee and a bottle of juice when he was told by the store employee he needed to pay for the items. Larkin put a couple of dollars on the counter and was told that wasn’t enough money. Larkin then flashed what appeared to be a handgun in his pocket and left.

Minutes later, police found Larkin near the store with some of the stolen items and the BB gun. He has been in custody since his arrest six months ago.

Crown prosecutor Alex Janse called for a total sentence of more than 900 days to be served consecutively — two years in jail for the robbery, four months for the assault at Moira House, one month for the assault outside the Mustard Seed and one month for the damage to Emerald Centre — with two years of probation to follow. Janse said Larkin has since been banned from Moira House, Emerald Centre and The Mustard Seed.

Defence lawyer Marcel LaFlamme asked the judge to consider a lesser sentence for the robbery. He said his client, who is Indigenous and originally from Edmonton, is intellectually challenged, with an IQ in the 70 range, well below the average.

Larkin, court heard, is also addicted to drugs. LaFlamme said during some of the offences, his client was suffering from psychosis.

“Should we throw the key away because he committed a serious offence? Wait a second, we’re dealing with someone who is highly disabled in the circumstance,” LaFlamme said.

He said Larkin moved to Kamloops at the age of 16 and was in and out of foster care, having been kicked out of one home for drinking and using drugs. He was on the streets while still a teenager.

Judge Marianne Armstrong sided largely with the Crown’s request, opting only to make the second assault conviction run concurrently with the first. Armstrong said she would have asked for more than a month for the damage done to Emerald Centre, but accepted Crown’s request regardless.

“There needs to be a period of incarceration so we can get started on rehabilitation in a way that is safe for society,” Armstrong said.

Larkin, appearing in court via video from jail, apologized for his crimes.

He spent 187 days in jail following his arrest and, when given credit for time served in pre-trial custody — calculated at 1.5 days for every actual day in jail — was credited for 281 days in jail. Factoring that into account, Larkin has 598 days, or almost 20 months, left to serve.