A serial robber who pleaded guilty to holding up four convenience stores in a span of 30 hours last year has avoided jail time and will spend the next three years on probation.
On Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops, Ian McPherson was sentenced on one of the four counts of robbery stemming from a two-day crime spree on April 14 and 15, 2019.
On the morning of April 15, police arrested McPherson without incident in the Batchelor Heights area following the fourth robbery he committed — a 9:50 a.m. heist of the Parkcrest Neighbourhood Store on Windbreak Street in Brocklehurst.
The other robberies took place at the Cornerstone Market on Halston Avenue in Brocklehurst, at the Halston Esso on Salish Road on the Tk’emlups the Secwépemc reserve and at the now-shuttered Mac’s convenience store on Tranquille Road in North Kamloops.
McPherson, 46, admitted his guilt this past January in a plea deal and on Thursday was sentenced for the Halston Esso robbery, with the Crown staying charges connected to the other three holdups.
Court heard that McPherson entered the Esso wearing a Vancouver Canucks hoodie, produced a large kitchen knife and demanded money from the cash register. Employees handed McPherson, who did not have his face covered, about $800 and he left the scene in a vehicle.
Police tracked down McPherson about 10 hours later with the aid of high-quality security footage. He was still wearing the Canucks hoodie and had the $800 on him at the time of his arrest.
Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg sought a one-year prison sentence for the robbery, while defence lawyer Daniel McNamee asked Justice Len Marchand to consider a suspended sentence and three years of probation.
In making his decision, Marchand took into consideration that McPherson has colon cancer and is in the middle of six months of chemotherapy, leaving him immunocompromised. Marchand said this would lead to rational fears of exposure to COVID-19 on McPherson’s part and involve transporting him to and from jail for treatment on a regular basis, increasing the risk of exposure for him and other inmates.
Marchand also noted McPherson was in the throes of a crack cocaine addiction, with drug debts, at the time of the robberies, but regretted his actions and is currently sober, having since completed treatment and reconnected with family members.
The judge also took into consideration McPherson’s schizophrenia diagnosis and the fact he has has been under house arrest while out on bail.
Wearing a grey face mask, blue dress shirt and black pants, McPherson addressed the court to apologize for his actions, adding he was “out of my head” and has turned his life around since the incident, which he said, in a way saved his life.
“I’ve still got room to grow and learn, but I haven’t done drugs in over a year. I’m liking my new way of life. I’ve got family members I’m getting really close to,” McPherson said, noting he would like to move in with and take care of his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Marchand said he ordinarily wouldn’t hesitate to impose what Crown suggested as sentences for convenience store robberies are intended to dissuade others from making attempts, but he could also not ignore McPherson’s unique circumstances.
Marchand said incarceration would have a disproportionate impact on McPherson and felt his recovery would be better supported in the community.
“I don’t expect to see you back here in the future,” Marchand told McPherson.
Conditions of McPherson’s probation will see him remain under house arrest for the next year and only be allowed to leave his residence for employment and medical reasons. That converts into a 9 p.m curfew in the second year. There are also a number of people with whom he has been ordered to have no contact.
McPherson will also be prohibited from coming within 50 metres of the convenience store he was charged with robbing and he must complete 150 hours of community service.