Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Man admits to participating in robbery, dressed in a skeleton costume

A Winnipeg man has admitted to participating in a "staged" armed robbery inside a Lockport fast-food restaurant while wearing a skeleton mask and matching costume.

Drew Kowal, 23, was given three months in jail Monday in addition to six months of time already served. He was also put on supervised probation for three years.
Kowal and a co-accused stormed inside the A and W location just north of Winnipeg in October 2006 and stole several thousand dollars, court was told. Kowal later told police that a large group of friends – including two women who were working at the time of the heist – had planned the incident out ahead of time.

However, police only ended up charging Kowal and his primary partner-in-crime - who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to a year in jail. The two employees claim they were truly victimized and didn’t know about any robbery plan.
Kowal was released on bail but got re-arrested last October after selling an undercover police officer three rocks of crack cocaine in exchange for $60. Police say he was working as a street-level "dial-a-dealer" in the inner-city.
Defence lawyer Les Kee told court Monday his client resorted to dealing drugs to help support himself financially after losing his job following his robbery arrest.
"He didn’t even have any food for himself – or his cat," said Kee.

Man jailed for role in 'staged' heist
When is a robbery a theft? When the robbery is faked, a court heard Monday.
Drew Kowal previously pleaded guilty to one count of theft over $5,000 for his part in the “staged robbery” of a Lockport A & W restaurant.
Court heard Kowal, 23, was one of four men who carried out the fake robbery with the help of two female employees on Oct. 23, 2006.
Kowal was on bail for that offence when, on Oct. 25, 2009, police arrested him in the course of a cocaine “dial-a-dealer” investigation.
Kowal pleaded guilty Monday to trafficking in cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking and breaching a recognizance.
Justice Chris Martin sentenced Kowal to one year in jail, minus nine months for time served, to be followed by three years supervised probation. Martin also ordered Kowal to complete 75 hours of community service work.

I am confused as to what this man was sentenced for.. was this sentence for the robbery or for the drug dealing? I would also like to know more about this man's background life and if he has previous convictions, etc. From this article, there is no indication that this man has a violent, previous criminal history or that he is a high risk to re-offend. He has already served 7 months and I believe only the worst, most dangerous and high risk offenders should be held in prisons. This man, is not one of them, in my opinion. 

Either way, I am left wondering what effect a 3 month prison sentence will have on this man. Is there a reason he is being sentenced to prison at all? Because we all should know that deterrence is not effective and that prison in general, is not effective. This will only cause further overcrowding and if community sanctions have been proven to be more effective in reducing and preventing crime, then we should be relying less on prison sentences and adhering more to the least restrictive method.  Short stints in prison have generally been shown to be ineffective. Plus, this man has already served 6 months in remand custody. I think that is enough prison time.

It is definitely a mitigating factor that he sold drugs to support himself financially. He did not have criminal intentions in mind. 

I agree with the portion of the sentence allocated to probation. Personally, I would have sentenced this man to a 2 year conditional sentence. I would order him to participate in victim-offender mediation so he could truly understand the consequences of his actions, employment training and assistance so he doesn't have to resort to criminal methods in order to support himself. I think that 6 months of remand, is long enough.

Mitigating Factors
Aggravating Factors
Pleaded guilty
Armed robbery
Sold drugs to support himself financially after losing job following robbery arrest
Possession of cocaine (separate incident) sold to undercover policeman
Already served 6 months in remand custody


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