Douglas Mara was working in his Fort Street jewelry store last April when he heard his wife, Marsha, call out: “Douglas. Don’t do anything. He has a gun.”
Mara was robbed and pepper-sprayed, his display cases smashed in the violent daytime robbery on April 26, 2012. When the thieves fled, Mara and his wife chased them through downtown Victoria before police arrested two suspects on the roof of a hotel.
On Monday, Michael Jacob Werner pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court to robbing Paul Mara Jewellers and using an imitation firearm while committing the robbery.
After Werner’s plea, a trial began for Dominique Orlando Wandolo, who pleaded not guilty to robbery, using an imitation firearm during a robbery and possessing more than $5,000 worth of stolen jewelry.
Prosecutor Carmen Rogers told the court that Werner and Wandolo were found, after the robbery, hiding on the roof of the Bedford Regency Hotel. Wandolo is the man who was arrested on the roof, she told Justice Malcolm Macaulay. “The only issue is was he the man who robbed the jewelry store?” Rogers said.
Douglas Mara testified that just after 10:30 a.m., he heard his wife Marsha call out ‘No.’ He looked out over the store and saw a man grab an umbrella stand and try to wedge it in the front door.
Marsha was trying to stop him, he recalled. A second man followed the first man inside the store.
Mara testified that he ran to the front counter to make sure Marsha and employee Tanya Sachowski were OK. Then the robber pulled a gun from his waistband and said, “Get down.”
Mara testified that he got on his knees and put his hands behind his head. Mara, who was in the Canadian Armed Forces for 17 years, immediately suspected the pistol was fake.
“It looked too silvery on the barrel. I was 99 per cent sure it was fake,” Mara testified.
The robber put the pistol back in his waistband and pulled out a police-style baton, said Mara, who testified that the man hit the glass partition at the front counter and yelled, “Where are those Rolexes at?”
The robber went around the store smashing display cases. Mara looked directly at Wandolo, who was sitting in the prisoner’s box.
“This guy was grabbing all the jewelry, putting it into a pillowcase-type bag,” Mara testified. “He grabbed all the rings from the cases and he was trying to get the Rolexes as well.”
Mara and his wife were screaming, “Get out. Please leave,” he recalled.
Then Mara was on his feet, bodychecking the first guy into one of the display cases. “I hit him hard and dragged him off the showcase. I was trying to get him to the ground,” he testified.
Mara was holding onto the man when the second man pepper-sprayed him. He let go and the men ran out of the store.
Marsha Mara testified that she chased the thieves through the Broughton Street parkade onto Courtney Street, but lost sight of them as they ran up Government Street.
She testified the robbers stole $300,000 to $350,000 worth of rings and watches. The police recovered everything except one diamond engagement ring worth $8,500.
Douglas Mara will continue his testimony today. A date for Werner’s sentencing is to be set March 13.
© Copyright 2013