Trio jailed for armed robbery

Three men were sentenced Monday to significant time behind bars for their roles in an armed robbery of a Prince George convenience store.

Both Donovan Arthur Carter-Laliberte, 24, and Wilfred Patrick Prince, 28, were sentenced to six years and Andrew Dane Gifford, 26, was sentenced to five years during a hearing at the courthouse.

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Less credit for time served prior to sentencing, Carter-Laliberte and Prince each have about 3 1/2 years to go while Gifford has about 2 1/2 years left for the Dec. 16, 2016 incident at a 7-11 at First Avenue and Tabor Boulevard.

Video from the store's surveillance cameras showed three masked men approach the store's entrance shortly after 9 p.m. One, later identified as Gifford, held the door open while another, who turned out to be Prince, prevented a woman from entering the store by pointing a can of bear spray at her face. Both were wearing bandanas over their faces.

Inside, Carter-Laliberte, who was wearing a hoodie and a hockey goalie's mask, pointed a .357 Magnum handgun at the clerk's face and demanded the cash trays and lottery tickets. But in the rush to get out of the store, the tickets were left behind.

As they piled into a stolen minivan, Prince slipped and broke one of the vehicle's taillights.

RCMP arrived on the scene minutes later and it just so happened that one of them owned a minivan of the same make and model and so was able to identify the type of vehicle from the remains of the taillight that had been left behind.

The minivan was later spotted heading along Foothills and into the Hart Highlands subdivision where, the court was told, it meandered through the neighbourhood in an attempt to evade police.

Prince leapt out and was quickly apprehended. Both the bear spray and the handgun, which turned out to be loaded with four blank cartridges, were found in his backpack.

With Carter-Laliberte behind the wheel, the remaining two made their way out back out to Chief Lake Road where they ran over a spike belt police had laid down. Unaware that the gun had been recovered, police treated the arrest of the two as a high-risk takedown.

Carter-Laliberte was apprehended with the help of a police service dog, who grabbed onto his arm. When Carter-Laliberte started hitting the dog, an officer struck him. Gifford, meanwhile, reached down to his leg as he was being arrested, prompting the arresting officer to strike him, knocking out two of Gifford's teeth.

The woman Prince pointed the bear spray at was never found but the event left the clerk traumatized and he no longer works at the store, the court was told.

All three offenders had remained in custody since their arrests and later pleaded guilty to a number of offences, the most significant being use of a restricted or prohibited firearm in a robbery, which carries a minimum five years in federal prison.

In sentencing the three, provincial court judge Cassandra Malfair agreed to joint submissions from Crown and defence counsels. Carter-Laliberte and Prince were issued longer terms due to their lengthier criminal records and the fact they had wielded weapons.

The three had hatched the plan in an effort to feed their addictions to opioids. In all, they made off with less than $100, mostly in coins, the court was told.

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