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Sentence issued for thefts of jewelry and jeans on same day

Neil Jordan Shaw plans to leave Prince George once his time in jail is over

The perpetrator of a jewelry store hold up and a brazen shoplifting attempt, both committed on the same day, intends to stay away from Prince George and get help to deal with his issues once he's finished serving his time in jail, the court heard Thursday.

"I do want to change for the better," Neil Jordan Shaw, 27, said when given a chance to speak prior to sentencing. 

Shaw was sentenced to 2 1/2 years for the acts plus a further 60 days for assaulting a guard at Prince George Regional Correctional Centre. 

Less credit for time served prior to sentencing, he had 135 days remaining as of Thursday but, pending good behaviour, will be out after two-thirds of that time. From there, he will be on probation for a further 1 1/2 years.

Shaw pleaded guilty to six counts related to the robberies on Jan. 18, 2020, the first occurring mid-morning when he walked into Michael's Jewellers in Parkwood Plaza with his face covered by a mask and wielding what turned out to be a replica handgun.

Shaw initially pointed the gun at the owner and two staff then backed away and attempted to smash a display case with the weapon, only to have it break apart. He then pulled out a stubby hammer and used that to smash another display case at the front of the store. He grabbed its contents, and with the owner wielding a small bat and approaching him, Shaw retreated out of the store and made his getaway.

It turned out he made off with a set of fake "display" jewelry that had minimal value.  

Roughly three hours later, Shaw was then seen carrying a swath of jeans cleared off a rack from the Winners outlet when it shared the same building as Best Buy across from Costco Wholesale on Highway 16 West.

He made it as far as a nearby car dealership before a civilian tackled Shaw and held him to the ground until police arrived. The stubby hammer was still in Shaw's possession and linked him to the robbery earlier that day.

During submissions from Crown and defence counsels, Shaw was described as "gullible and eager to please" and had been "put up" to committing the offences by someone he considered a friend but also a threat.

The person, whose name was not provided during the hearing, had offered Shaw methamphetamine and a place to stay in exchange for helping to run some errands. 

Under the influence at the time and not knowing what the plan was, Shaw got into the person's car. He was handed the mask and the fake gun once they were outside the jewelry store and told to come back with some jewelry.

"He wasn't thinking clearly, he knew it didn't seem right but he went in and did it anyway," defence lawyer Wesley Perrin told the court.

When Shaw got back in the car to get away, the person gave him some grief about the quality of the what he had stolen and told Shaw he had another job to do. Shaw was given a change of clothes and, in the early afternoon, they arrived at Winners where he was told to "grab as many jeans as he could."

He did as much, leaving through the store's main entrance with nearly $600 worth. But once outside, Shaw found his accomplice had abandoned him and he was apprehended shortly afterwards.

Shaw has remained in custody since the arrest.

In November 2020, was charged with assaulting a peace officer after he struck a guard at Prince George Regional Correctional Centre with a broom handle because he was upset about being moved to a new unit. Shaw has since recognized that his actions at that time were out of line, the court heard.

Shaw was also sentenced to a concurrent term of 30 days for stealing a bike in September 2019 in a crime of opportunity at Spruceland Mall. The bike's owner alerted police and followed Shaw until police arrived.

The sentence came in the form of a joint submission from Crown and defence counsels and so-called "Gladue factors" related to his Indigenous background played a significant role. 

Shaw endured a "rough and violent" upbringing and was introduced into a life of crime and drug abuse at an early age. He and his mother, who died from an opioid overdose in 2017, spent much of their time living on the streets. Shaw has also been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and has shown signs of other mental health issues. 

Once he's completed his time in jail, Shaw plans to live with his father in a community in Alberta where he hopes to work with his hands. He is also willing to attend treatment for his addictions, the court heard.