Dominic Oyango Wandolo has been sentenced to four years in prison for robbing a Fort Street jewelry store last April.
Wandolo, 27, pleaded guilty part-way through his trial to robbing Paul Mara Jewellers on the morning of April 26, 2012, and to using an imitation firearm while committing the robbery.
On Thursday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Malcolm Macaulay sentenced Wandolo to three years for the robbery and imposed a one-year consecutive sentence for the use of the imitation firearm. Macaulay credited Wandolo with the 323 days he has already spent in custody, meaning he must serve another three years and 42 days in prison.
Wandolo’s co-accused, Michael Jacob Werner, pleaded guilty at the start of the trial. He will be sentenced this morning.
The trial heard that Werner and Wandolo were buzzed into the store around 10:30 a.m.
Werner brandished a pistol and threatened Douglas and Marsha Mara. He ordered them and an employee to get on the ground. Then, using a baton, Werner smashed display cases. Wandolo followed behind, grabbing more than $300,000 worth of jewelry and watches and placing them in a bag.
Douglas Mara, who was in the Canadian Armed Forces for 17 years, got to his feet and bodychecked Werner into one of the display cases. Mara was hanging onto Werner when Wandolo pepper-sprayed him.
Werner and Wandolo ran from store, through downtown, where they were spotted by several people. Within an hour, police knocked on their door at the Bedford Regency Hotel. the pair escaped through a window and onto the roof, where they were arrested.
The robbery was frightening and psychologically devastating for the Maras, Macaulay said. Both have lost their trust in people and fear another violent robbery might happen again.
Although they had hoped to pass their family-run business onto their daughter, she no longer comes to the store, Macaulay said. Douglas and Marsha used to work side by side, but they no longer work together because of safety concerns.
Macaulay found the violent nature of the robbery, the vulnerability of the people in the store, the threats and the high value of the jewelry and watches to be aggravating circumstances in the case. Also, Wandolo was on bail and on probation, with conditions not to possess weapons, at the time of the offence.
Wandolo, who has a criminal record with six convictions for violence, had been released from jail a few days earlier. On April 25, when he was supposed to be reporting to his probation officer, he was in Victoria planning the robbery with Werner, Macaulay noted.
Wandolo was born in Kenya and came to Canada in 1987. He came from a good family. His father is a doctor, his mother works at a university.
No doubt Wandolo had educational opportunities, Macaulay said. Instead, he focused on crime, alcohol and drugs in his adult years.
Macaulay found the mitigating circumstances to be Wandolo’s relatively young age, his statement to police after the robbery, his guilty pleas and the fact that he did not handle the gun.
On Wednesday at Wandolo’s sentencing hearing, defence lawyer Mike Munro told the court that his client will be deported when he finishes his sentence.
“It is most unfortunate that through the inaction of his parents, he never got status in this country,” Munro said.
Wandolo knows he has no one to blame but himself, Munro said. “But he will be dropped on the streets of Nairobi when he finishes his sentence. … He is a young man with a most uncertain future.”
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