October 20th, 2019

Vogelsang gets 6.5-year sentence for bank robberies

By JEREMY APPEL on October 9, 2019.

Photo courtesy MHPS
The screengrab from security camera footage shows the man responsible for the Royal Bank robbery on Oct. 19. Vogelsang was sentenced to a total of 6.5 years in prison for bank robberies across the prairies in 2017, including two in Medicine Hat in October of that year.

jappel@medicinehatnews.com@MHNJeremyAppel

A former broadcaster and college instructor who went on a bank-robbing spree across the Prairies has been sentenced to a total of 6.5 years in prison.

Stephen Vogelsang, 55, was sentenced Tuesday in Medicine Hat Provincial Court to 18 months for the two robberies he committed in Medicine Hat on Oct. 19 and 20, 2017.

This sentence is consecutive to the five years he was sentenced to for bank robberies in Regina and Saskatoon, which occurred prior to the Medicine Hat robberies.

As mitigating factors, Judge Derek Redmond cited Vogelsang’s guilty plea, which he said has the effect of “conserving scarce court resources.”

Related: Spiral into depression led to bank robberies, court told

Vogelsang pled guilty to the two local robberies in April, just before he was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing.

Redmond said it would have been more mitigating had he pled guilty before the matter was set for trial.

“I do accept however, that he was remorseful,” the judge said.

Redmond also cited 11 character references Vogelsang received, “some totally unsolicited,” which paint him as a “committed, caring professional,” who suffered a lapse in judgment due to external circumstances.

Court heard the accused has attended counselling since 2004 and was diagnosed with depression in 2007.

But his circumstances grew even worse after he left his job at Red River College in Winnipeg to move with his then-wife to Nelson, B.C., where he couldn’t find meaningful employment.

He returned to Winnipeg for work before getting a divorce from his wife in 2016.

Sinking deeper into depression and saddled with debt from his lengthy unemployment, Vogelsang decided to go on a bank-robbing spree, court heard during sentencing submissions in August.

As lawyer Greg White put it, the robberies were “the bottom of a seven-year downward spiral.”

“We’re talking about someone who came to the end of his rope … and made decisions that were simply illogical,” White said.

White reportedly argued during Vogelsang’s Saskatchewan matters that the accused was not criminally responsible because he suffers from bipolar disorder, an argument that judge rejected based on a court-ordered psychological assessment that determined Vogelsang was of sound mind when the offences occurred.

There was one victim impact statement during the Medicine Hat submissions, in which one of the bank tellers called Vogelsang’s robbery the “scariest incident of his life,” Redmond said Tuesday.

Although he didn’t explicitly threaten anyone, he held up a sign demanding money, which is an “implicit threat,” the judge said.

In a court-ordered pre-sentencing report, Vogelsang’s sister and a friend agreed he possesses a “narcissistic tendency,” but Redmond said the significant time in custody the accused has been sentenced to will help him deal with these issues.

Chances of Vogelsang’s rehabilitation are high, given his lack of a prior criminal record, Redmond said.

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