July 24th, 2024

Man to serve two more years for downtown bank robberies

By Peggy Revell on June 8, 2017.

prevell@medicinehatnews.com @MHNprevell

A man who robbed two downtown banks last year will be incarcerated for just under two years for the remainder of his sentence.

Alebele Negussie confirmed guilty pleas to counts of robbery Thursday at the Medicine Hat Courthouse. As part of a joint submission between Crown and defence, Negussie was sentenced to 21 months in jail for the first robbery — considered time served as he’s been in custody since the robbery — and two years, minus a day for the second robbery.

The sentences being under two years each stem from concerns and consequences towards Negussie’s immigration status.

As defence counsel told the News, Negussie is originally from Ethiopia — currently under a state of emergency, with violent civil unrest, as well as drought in some areas — and has permanent resident status in Canada.

Should Canadian authorities decide to deport Negussie, any sentence of more than two years for a criminal charge would mean he is not entitled to appeal the deportation. A sentence under two years ensures he can make an appeal.

“This was a matter where aggravating circumstances are minimal,” said Judge Gordon Krinke during sentencing, praising the Crown for finding an “appropriate” sentence for individuals that takes into consideration numerous factors that can sometimes be overlooked.

The robberies took place on April 12, 2016 when Negussie entered the downtown TD bank branch, and gave the teller a note saying he had a pistol and demanding $20,000. Negussie was given a total of $365, of which $165 were marked. Police were called and began investigating, including searching the area.

At 12:17 p.m. the same day, Negussie entered the downtown Bank of Montreal branch, passing another note demanding money. The teller alerted the manager, and a bank employee even pursued Negussie, who was quickly arrested by police as they were already in the vicinity.

In the time between the robberies, Negussie went into a local store and used the stolen funds to purchase clothing.

The crimes were “not sophisticated” said the Crown prosecutor, with Negussie only getting a “very nominal amount” of $700 from both robberies. And when Negussie robbed the second bank, he was chased into the open arms of the police who were still investigating the first robbery.

The Crown also said that that Negussie’s criminal record is limited.

Negussie had entered guilty pleas and sentencing arguments were made earlier this year, but fired his lawyer, so had to find new counsel.


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