— File photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
A St. Philip’s man who held up two banks out of desperation to pay off drug dealers won’t be doing any dealing for a while.
Scott Kenneth Cleary was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail Wednesday at provincial court in St. John’s.
The 21-year-old had pleaded guilty to seven charges, including two counts of armed robbery, having his face masked, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose and theft.
On April 29 of last year, Cleary walked into the Bank of Montreal on Elizabeth Avenue in St. John’s around noon with a knife and pantyhose covering his head. He demanded cash from the female teller. He made off with between $3,000 and $4,000.
A month later, on May 24, he went into the Royal Bank of Canada in Torbay with the same knife and again demanded cash from the female teller, who said Cleary had material covering his face. He was handed the money and ran out to a car where a woman was waiting.
Bank management was unable to determine exactly how much money was taken, but estimates it was between $500 and $3,000.
Once police caught up to him, he confessed and directed officers to his house, where much of the money was recovered.
The theft charge was laid after the manager of Circle K Irving on Frecker Drive was doing inventory in March 2013 and noticed money was missing. He reviewed the security video and saw that Cleary, who was employed at the store as a clerk at the time, was not charging certain customers for groceries and scratch tickets. In all, he gave away $2,218 worth of items.
Prior to Wednesday’s sentencing, Cleary only had one conviction on his criminal record — a theft, for which he was sentenced to probation.
During Cleary’s sentencing hearing last month, Crown prosecutor Elaine Reid had suggested a sentence of three to four years. She told the judge that although Cleary has a limited record, a lengthy prison sentence is warranted.
Defence lawyer Scott Hurley recommended two to three years in jail.
He said Cleary has a serious drug problem and added that the thefts at the store was his way of paying back his debt to the people he owed money to for drugs. In all, he said, Cleary owed more than $10,000. Hurley said Cleary committed the crimes out of desperation.
Hurley said Cleary is still a young man with hope of turning his life around.
When Cleary addressed the court, he apologized to the victims and said his drug use has had a huge impact on his life. He said he’s determined to turn his life around.
The judge met the lawyers’ suggestions in the middle. The sentence also included a DNA and forfeiture order, as well as a 10-years firearms ban.
Meanwhile, Brenna Gillespie — suspected of helping Cleary in the RBC robbery — still has her case before the court. She’s due to return April 2.