By Trevor Busch
A woman accused of conspiring and helping stage a botched armed robbery of a Vauxhall service station in 2014 was sentenced to 60 days of incarceration on Aug. 4.
Judy Giesbrecht, 19, was also sentenced to one year of probation and 60 hours of community service by Judge G.R. DeBow, after pleading guilty to theft under $5,000 on April 21 in Taber provincial court. Sentencing in the case was adjourned to allow for preparation of a pre-sentence report.
In Taber provincial court on Aug. 4, Crown prosecutor Darwyn Ross read the facts of the case into the record. Prior to the offence date of Nov. 24, 2014, two employees of a Vauxhall service station, one of whom was Giesbrecht, conspired to stage a false armed robbery of their place of employment in order to deflect suspicion and obtain the proceeds of the crime. Around 1 a.m. on the date in question, Giesbrecht’s boyfriend and accomplice Marc Dalton entered the service station wearing a mask and brandishing a knife, and appeared to demand cash and cigarettes from the female clerk, Giesbrecht.
After obtaining a quantity of cash and cigarettes, according to Ross, Dalton exited the store and fled the vicinity on foot. Officers of the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment were notified and initiated an investigation of the crime. Review of video surveillance of the incident raised police suspicions, as Dalton had displayed a certain familiarity with the station’s business operations and appeared to have knowledge of how to obtain the cash and items desired. Dalton was located and questioned, eventually admitting his involvement in the crime to police, and was charged accordingly. Some $1,988 in cash was seized by police, but 69 packages of cigarettes taken during the robbery were not recovered.
Dalton’s co-accused, Giesbrecht, was questioned by Taber/Vauxhall RCMP about inconsistencies in her account of events and the nature of her relationship with the accused. According to Ross, Giesbrecht purposely attempted to mislead police, but under further police interrogation, she eventually admitted her complicity in the crime and was charged with various offences.
Citing findings in the pre-sentence report, Ross indicated the crime had been “all about greed” and that the accused showed a “distinct lack of remorse” for her actions.
“This wasn’t just a handful of coins from the bottom of the till,” said Ross. This was an end-of-shift take. This was purposeful, it was acted on, and it continued to be denied after the fact.”
Giesbrecht’s lawyer Greg White had argued for a lengthy conditional sentence order (CSO) for the accused, to be served in the community and followed by probation rather than jail time.
When questioned by Judge DeBow in open court, the mother of the accused had indicated she was not confident Giesbrecht, who resides in Vauxhall, could abide by the conditions laid down in a CSO. Judge DeBow ultimately declined to follow White’s recommendation, opting instead for a short period of incarceration followed by probation.
As conditions of her probation, Giesbrecht was ordered to attend for assessment, treatment and counselling for life skills and alcohol and substance abuse, and she was prohibited from contact with her co-accused, Marc Dalton.
The accused will be permitted to serve her sentence intermittently on weekends at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre. Further charges of possession of stolen property and public mischief were withdrawn by the Crown. Giesbrecht had no previous criminal record.
Giesbrecht’s co-accused, 20-year-old Marc Dalton, pled guilty to theft under $5,000, disguised with intent, and possession of stolen property on Jan. 20, 2015.
Dalton received a sentence of one year of incarceration from Judge G.S. Maxwell, despite also having no previous criminal record.