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Jeffrey Earle, 29, gets six years in prison for robbing two Marie's Mini Mart stores
Working as a convenience store clerk has become one of the most dangerous jobs in St. John’s, the lawyer representing a convicted armed robber said Wednesday.
Steve Orr was presenting his sentencing arguments in the case of Jeffrey Earle, 29, who was convicted after a trial of robbing two Marie’s Mini Mart locations last year. He also pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from shoplifting steaks from local grocery stores and an assault on a fellow inmate, as well as breaches of court orders.
Orr said he agreed with prosecutor Alana Dwyer about the gravity of the robberies and the need for his client to do jail time.
“I really can’t disagree with my friend’s analysis,” Orr told Judge Mike Madden, saying Earle “deserves to be punished.”
He suggested a lighter sentence than what Dwyer had proposed, however, pointing out that as far as robberies go, Earle’s actions were on the less serious end.
Earle entered a Marie’s store on Dunn’s Road in Mount Pearl one day last February while armed with a steak knife, walked behind the counter and told the clerk to open the cash drawer. The clerk testified Earle had repeatedly apologized to her, telling her he had addictions issues before leaving with money and cigarettes.
"This is terrifying for any individual and should never be experienced by anyone trying to earn a living. It’s happening too often in our city.” — Alana Dwyer
Earle later pulled up in the parking lot of a nearby Mount Pearl hotel in a vehicle that had been stolen from the Village mall parking lot earlier in the day.
Last July, Earle entered a Marie’s store on Topsail Road and told the clerk “This is a robbery” before demanding cash and tobacco.
Earle had been charged with two other robberies, but was acquitted.
Orr told the judge Earle has completed his education and all possible relevant programming while in custody at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, and has overcome a longtime drug addiction. He also presented Madden with a handwritten letter from Earle, apologizing for his crimes and promising he’d never be back in a courtroom.
Orr argued for a total jail sentence of four years and four months for Earle.
Arguing for a total jail sentence of six years and five months, Dwyer presented Earle’s lengthy criminal record, pointing out he has been convicted and served jail time for the same charges in the past. She said the armed robberies had been unsophisticated schemes.
“They appear to have been committed because of a need for money fueled by a drug addiction,” she said, but stressed the impact of Earle’s actions on the store clerks. “This is terrifying for any individual and should never be experienced by anyone trying to earn a living. It’s happening too often in our city.”
Madden rendered his decision after a short break, sentencing Earle to close to six years in prison. With credit for the time he has spent in custody, he has just under four years left to serve.
Twitter: @Tara Bradbury