A man who took part in a scheme to beat and rob a man was sentenced to three years in jail on Wednesday morning.
Vincent Houle, 32, pleaded guilty to his role in the crime at Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench.
On Aug. 12, 2018, the victim expected to be going to the movies with co-accused Robyn Boersma, Crown attorney Grant Hughes said Wednesday morning, but instead went to the residence of a friend of hers. Boersma was previously described in court as the "ringleader" of the operation.
The two went to the basement to have a smoke, but two men forced the victim to the ground and punched him in the face, Hughes said. He was then blindfolded and tied up before the assailants took his keys and wallet.
"[The victim] was then forced to provide the PIN for his credit cards. In threatening him to disclose the PIN, the assailants held a knife to his throat," Hughes told the court, adding they also threatened to hurt the victim’s parents if he didn’t cooperate.
The group then drove to Carberry, where the victim spent the night at Boersma’s residence. Hughes said he was untied, but didn’t feel like he could leave.
He was eventually driven back to Brandon, dropped off and given his things back, he said.
"Mr. Houle was clearly captured on video at multiple Brandon locations using the stolen cards during the time [the victim] was in captivity," Hughes said. He also identified Houle with a high degree of certainty in a police photo lineup as one of the people involved.
Hughes and defence lawyer Jeremy Kostiuk jointly recommended a sentence of three years time served for the crime.
While the incident warrants a penitentiary-length sentence, Hughes said, there were issues with the Crown’s case and the guilty-plea was mitigating.
"This was a violent, opportunistic, exploitative crime orchestrated with advanced planning by multiple offenders," he said.
Kostiuk said the time in jail could be seen as low, but he said it was appropriate given the issues in the case.
Houle had a difficult life growing up and was surrounded by poverty, Kostiuk said, adding it is "incumbent" on Houle to make better choices once he gets out of jail.
Speaking to the court in a quiet voice, Houle apologized and said the time in jail has been hard on him. He said he is trying to do better in his life and work on himself.
Justice Scott Abel endorsed the joint recommendation, sentencing Houle to approximately three years time served in jail. While the crime was violent, he said he can’t ignore the remorse the accused showed.
He also banned Houle from owning weapons for life and ordered him to provide a DNA sample to police.
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