A robber whose daylight attack left a prominent local social worker with a life-changing brain injury will serve no additional time in jail.
Marshall Randolph Schulze plead guilty to robbing Diane Nakamura on Oct. 29, 2018, when she was walking along Fifth Avenue near Quebec Street. As Schulze and Nakamura struggled for control of her bag, Nakamura fell and hit her head on the sidewalk, suffering a concussion that left her unable to work, sleeping 12 to 18 hours a day and feeling emotionally dead inside, according the victim impact statement she presented to the court in November.
The attack happened only a month after Nakamura was named the Prince George Community's Foundation's Citizen of the Year for her social work and advocacy.
On Friday, Provincial Court Judge Michael Brecknell issued Schulze a suspended sentence, with 36 months of probation. In addition, Brecknell ordered Schulze to perform 100 hours of community service, donate $1,500 to the Prince George Brain Injured Group over the next three years and provide a DNA sample to the RCMP databank. Brecknell also issued Schulze a lifetime ban on owning firearms.
“There is no need to incarcerate Mr. Schulze for the standard duration. What would that accomplish? The public is not in danger from Mr. Schulze as long as he maintains his mental health and sobriety,” Brecknell said. “The court’s decision may not find favour with Ms. Nakamura and her supporters… (but) his future positive progress is exactly what she tried to achieve in her career.”
Schulze spent 131 days in jail following his arrest and the Crown had asked for a sentence of 12 to 20 months in custody, followed by three years probation.
In his ruling, Brecknell agreed with Schulze’s lawyer that his efforts to treat his drug addiction and get counselling, maintain a full-time job as a carpenter, and turn his life around following his release from jail constituted exceptional circumstances that warranted a suspended sentence. In a letter written by Schulze to Nakamura, which was read by his lawyer during his submissions to the court earlier this year, Schulze took responsibility for his actions and offered an apology for the harm he’d done.
The community is better served by allowing Schultze to continue his rehabilitation into society than by sending him to jail, Brecknell said. However, if Schultz violates “even one term of the probation order,” he will be back before the court in Prince George to face sentencing for his crime, Brecknell said.
Schulze appeared in court remotely from Abbotsford, where he now lives.
Following the ruling, Nakamura said she agreed with the judge’s decision.
“Even though my life has been drastically altered by his actions, I agree with the judge saying that sending him to jail won’t be in the community’s interest,” Nakamura said. “He is young, and he has his whole life ahead of him.”
— With files from Mark Nielsen