A 15-year-old boy got a five-month jail sentence Thursday after dousing a cop car in gasoline in an attempt to set it on fire as vengeance for arresting his robbery accomplice.
The Birdtail Sioux First Nation teen was involved in a string of robberies beginning in the early morning hours of Sept. 7, 2013, when he and a 13-year-old boy smashed into a Miniota convenience store wearing bandanas and took off with several liquor bottles before piling into a getaway van, Brandon provincial court was told.
The owners of the store rushed out after the alarm went off, and caught a glimpse of the driver, a 22-year-old man who was arrested shortly after. The two masked thieves got away.
Crown attorney Rich Lonstrup told court the 15-year-old was out for revenge with a “specific type of malice at the police” following the arrest by members of the Dakota Ojibway Police Service (DOPS).
Just days after the robbery, on Sept. 18, the teen and his 13-year-old baseball bat-wielding cousin poured gas on a DOPS cruiser in a failed attempt to set it ablaze.
When they were unsuccessful, they let the air out of two of the police car’s tires.
“What would have happened if police caught them in the act?” asked Lonstrup, referring to the teen with a bat.
On Oct. 17, the 15-year-old and the same accomplice returned to the convenience store at 4 a.m. with another 15-year-old girl, again to steal an unknown amount of booze, again with their faces covered.
The Brandon Sun is not naming the teen to comply with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
According to documents read in court, the 15-year-old said he would do it again “because it was fun.”
Lonstrup told court the convenience store and gas station has been terrorized by break and enters, costing owners between $15,000 and $20,000 over the last several years.
“The owners of that store, who are there for the benefit of the community, have suffered loss after loss after loss,” Judge Margaret Wiebe said when handing down the sentence.
In the final incident of his five-month crime spree, the teen — who had no criminal record prior to September 2013 — broke into a home in the Birdtail Sioux area, again with a bat-wielding accomplice, demanding cash on Jan. 23.
When the woman in the home had no money to surrender, the duo took off with cigarettes and no one was harmed, including a small child at the home.
Defence attorney Bernie Rodrigue pointed to his client’s troubled home life as a potential reason for his sudden burst of criminality.
“He doesn’t choose where he lives, the fact he lives in a troubled area is perhaps a factor that needs to be taken into account,” he told the judge. The teen’s mom was present in the courtroom as the sentence was handed down.
The youth has been behind bars for the last four months, for the most part at the Agassiz Youth Centre in Portage la Prairie. That time will be credited toward yesterday’s sentence and he will be released in less than a month.
After that, the teen will be under probation for two years with conditions including staying away from the store he robbed. He’s also not to have incendiary devices — including gasoline and lighters.
“This is very serious stuff, it’s not pulling a prank, it’s not regular teenage lack of judgment,” Wiebe said.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 30, 2014