Addiction not an excuse for crimes, but explains a lot, judge says

Published on February 16, 2016
Eric Squires in provincial court in St. John's this morning. — Photo by Rosie Mullaley/The Telegram

A St. John's man who is already serving a 5 1/2-year jail term for one armed robbery has been given an additional 2 1/2 years behind bars for two others.

Eric Douglas Squires was sentenced today at provincial court in St. John's.

Judge Lori Marshall went along with an agreed recommendation from Crown prosecutor Jeff Summers and defence lawyer Kevin Baker.

Squires pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery — one at the Orange Store on Pennywell Road on Oct. 12, 2015, and a second at Marie's Mini Mart on Elizabeth Avenue on Oct. 13, 2015.

The 36-year-old also pleaded guilty to two counts each of having his face masked and breaching a probation order.

He was already convicted of a robbery at the same Marie's store.

A week after these two robberies, Oct. 20, 2015, he again robbed the Marie's store.

In January 2015, he was given a 5 1/2 year sentence for that robbery.

Squires committed all three of the robberies with William Peter Edwards.

They were charged with the robberies at the Orange Store and Marie's, the first one, while they were in jail for the Oct. 20 Marie's robbery.

Edwards pleaded guilty to charges, including armed robbery for the Oct. 20, 2015, robbery at Marie's and was sentenced to three years in jail in 2014.

In August 2015, he pleaded guilty to the other two armed robberies and was also given an additional 2 1/2-year prison term.

Along with the two additional robberies, Squires also pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm, along with two counts of breaching probation orders, in connection with an attack on another inmate at Her Majesty's Penitentiary on Dec. 19, 2014.

It happened on the range, on unit 2B. The video from inside prison shows Squires pummel Chris Snow, punching him and kicking him in the face and head. Snow tried to get away and was unable to fight back.

Snow suffered cuts and bruises, as well as fractured bones in his face. He was taken to hospital for treatment and released shortly after.

During Squires' sentencing hearing last week, he apologized for what he's done and said he's been addicted to intravenous drugs since he was 12 to deal with his father's death.

"I can't envision a rational person who wouldn't be heartbroken, dealing with the death of a parent," Marshall said.

"It put you on a slippery slope of crime in the justice system and it just went downhill after that.

Squires accumulated a 19-page criminal record, which the judge said was no surprise given he's had no counselling or support over the years.

"That doesn't excuse any of your conduct, as you can understand," Marshall said. "However, it goes to (explain) how you ended up in your position."

The judge pointed out that Squires has recognized that he needs to deal with his drug addiction and that he does plan to seek help while in federal prison.

"Hopefully there's a life for you once you have served all your time in jail," she said.

Marshall called the attack on the other inmate "a savage attack."

Before proceedings ended, the judge said, "Mr. Squires, I certainly hope you don't lose hope ... And I hope you avail of counselling (while in jail) so you can get your drug addiction under control and you can live a normal life."

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