A 23-year-old man who stole money from the Casa Loma Motel to fuel his cocaine addiction has been sentenced to one year in jail and three years on probation.
Adam Cormack appeared in territorial court Monday morning. He had pleaded guilty to robbery, wearing a mask while committing a crime, and two breaches of his release conditions earlier this year.
“I realize what I’ve done is wrong,” Cormack told Chief Judge Karen Ruddy. “It’ll never happen again. I’m sorry.”
Last April 5, Cormack and a friend entered the Casa Loma in Porter Creek. Both were masked – he wore a hood and a balaclava.
They demanded the bartender give them the money in the register. When she told them to leave, Cormack’s friend pushed her, causing her to fall over.
Cormack took the money from the register and his friend took the funds from the tip jar. In all, it was about $1,300.
Both men were later found by police and arrested.
In a victim impact statement, the bartender wrote that she suffered physical and mental trauma from the robbery. She has had several physiotherapy and psychologist appointments to deal with what happened.
“It has taken me a very long time ... to be comfortable working alone late at night,” she wrote.
After his arrest, Cormack was admitted to Community Wellness Court and ordered to live at the Adult Resource Centre (ARC). Twice, he breached his conditions when urine samples tested positive for cocaine.
He’s struggled with drug addiction for years, said Crown prosecutor John Phelps.
When Cormack started living with his dad at age 10, he became involved in the drug trade, selling drugs and being verbally and physically abused by his father.
He dropped out of high school in Grade 10. Over the years, he experimented with drugs – ecstasy, acid, special K, crack cocaine and crystal meth.
He entered an addictions treatment centre at age 15.
Cormack moved back in with his mother in 2007.
She sat in the courtroom, crying, on Monday.
“I’m just hoping he’s learned his lesson from this,” she told Ruddy. “I’m sorry that we’ve put everybody through this.”
Phelps said a psychological assessment shows Cormack’s “extreme cognitive challenges,” as well as two head injuries sustained years earlier.
Defence lawyer David Christie said the trauma Cormack experienced during his childhood was “tragic,” and said it’s rare to see someone involved in drug-dealing so young.
His client recognizes what he did was wrong, and has written apology letters. This was important to him, Christie said.
As for his breaches – using cocaine while living at the ARC – Christie said Cormack knows he has to stop associating with his old friends, and with anyone who uses drugs.
“I think we were all frustrated with the slips,” Christie said.
These are the first entries on Cormack’s criminal record as an adult.
The one-year jail sentence and three-year probation were jointly proposed by Phelps and Christie.
Ruddy opted to impose it, noting Cormack’s early guilty plea, his youth, his limited record and his “highly traumatic” upbringing.
“He has significant cognitive challenges that affect his ability to perhaps make positive choices,” she said, noting diagnoses of ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Clearly, that early exposure to the drug trade is something that he continues to struggle with ... He’s a young man with significant challenges.”
But the offender does have the support of his family, and he’s sincere in his desire to change his behaviour, she said.
While the proposed sentence is “significantly” lower than what’s typical for a robbery, Ruddy said it was appropriate given the circumstances and Cormack’s cognitive difficulties, which affect his moral culpability.
For the breaches, she sentenced him to 15 and 30 days, respectively, consecutive.
In custody already for 6 1/2 months, Cormack will have seven months left to serve on the robbery and mask-wearing offences.
While on probation, he’ll be under several conditions, including that he must reside at his mother’s house on the North Klondike Highway, and abide by a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. curfew.
He must also participate in any substance abuse and anger management counselling dictated by his probation officer.