A young Saanich man who knocked an 87-year-old woman to the ground and stole her cash-filled purse will be sentenced Tuesday in Victoria provincial court.
Gordon Hunter, 18, pleaded guilty earlier this year to robbing the elderly woman as she got off a bus on Langley Street June 9. Hunter has been in custody since his arrest on June 10.
At Hunters sentencing hearing on Wednesday, prosecutor Joselyn Byrne asked Judge Sue Wishart to impose a one-year sentence, followed by two years probation.
The street robbery of elderly people should be taken seriously by the court, Byrne said. People have to feel safe downtown.
Defence lawyer Brad Hickford said the five months Hunter has spent in custody is sufficient. He suggested Wishart craft a probation order with conditions to address any concerns.
Byrne told the court that the petite senior, who is five-feet tall and weighs 90 pounds, went to Buccaneer Days in Esquimalt. When she left to go home, she boarded the bus, showed the driver her pass and sat up front. She did not open her purse.
Hunter and his friend Sam Holden were also seated at the front of the bus, Byrne said.
When the 87-year-old got off the bus at Langley Street, Hunter ran behind her at full force, grabbing her purse and knocking her to the ground.
She felt like shed been hit by a car, Byrne said. She was flung down onto the pavement so hard, all the buttons came off her coat.
The injured woman called for help.
Retired RCMP officer Doug Smith heard her and came to her aid, Byrne said, relating the events to the court.
Smith confronted Hunter. But the young man said, What the f--- do you want?
Whatever you stole from that woman, was Smiths reply.
Byrne said Hunter pushed Smith aside, ran down Trounce Alley and hid in Monk Office Supplies. The teen asked if he could use the washroom, but was told to go to the Bay Centre.
Hunter sounded terrified when he told the store manager that hed almost been shot and was being followed, Byrne said. When the manager said he was going to phone the police, Hunter told him to relax and just chill.
Byrne told the court that Hunter then ran to the Bay Centre.
He met Holden, who had been holding his belongings.
He went to the washroom, took the money almost $5,000 in $100s and $50s out of the womans purse and threw away her purse with all her identification. Hunter also changed into a new set of clothes.
In the meantime, Smith and Victoria police were searching the mall for Hunter.
Even though Hunter was wearing new clothes, Smith spotted him and gave chase, but Hunter escaped.
Later, police retrieved an image of Hunter from surveillance cameras at the shopping centre.
A dozen people called police after Hunters photo was released to the media.
Holden was also identified and brought in to Victoria police for questioning. He said he didnt know Hunter was planning to rob the elderly woman.
That night, Byrne said, Hunter threw a party at his home in Cadboro Bay and gave money to his friends.
Police, who had the house under surveillance, overheard a young woman leaving the party ask the cabbie if he had change for $100.
Hunter was arrested June 10. He came out of his house clutching a Bible, rosary beads and an apology letter to the senior. He also returned $3,700 of her money.
The 87-year-old, who was badly bruised, was deeply upset by the letter of apology, Byrne said.
In the letter, Hunter says he robbed the senior to take care of his sick mother. He said he had no choice, and that he gave the money away to young mothers, young fathers and kids with dirty clothes.
Hickford, the defence lawyer, noted the crime was not premeditated and Hunter made a bad decision on the bus. Hunter is remorseful and ashamed he let his family and friends down. He also made an early guilty plea on June 29.
He doesnt need to spend any further time in custody, Hickford said.
Everyones best interests would be served if he was released and placed on probation with conditions that include counselling.
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