NEWS

American Who Sneaks Into B.C. 8 Times Sent To Jail

01/12/2012 09:03 EST | Updated 03/13/2012 05:12 EDT
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A Washington man who repeatedly snuck back into Canada after being thrown out of the country eight times in the past 12 years will now be spending several months in a B.C. jail.

Ryan Almos was handed a 20-month sentence in Vancouver provincial court Wednesday. Almos will serve 11 months after being credited for the nine months he's spent in pre-trial custody.

"I'm concerned that Mr. Almos seems lacking in insight in a very basic way into the consequences of his actions," said Judge Elisabeth Burgess. "It seem to me that there does come a time — and the time has come for Mr. Almos — where the only action is a jail sentence."

Almos, 34, is addicted to crystal-methamphetamine and kept coming back to Vancouver to be with his girlfriend, defence lawyer Danny Markovitz told CBC News.

"He seems to be love struck about this girlfriend of his," said Markovitz. "Whether he has learned his lesson once and for all, only time will tell."

During his numerous trips in and out of Canada, Almos also has built up a criminal record for assault and break-ins.

He resisted arrest when Immigration Canada officers picked him up at his girlfriend's home on April 15, 2011, the court was told.

Crown prosecutor Maggie Knowlan asked for the maximum sentence of two years less a day.

Knowlan said none of Almos’s previous sentences seemed to have acted as a deterrent, and he'd resisted Canada Border Services agents when he was caught at the border crossing at Peace Arch Park, south of Vancouver.

"It's not just that he continues to return and is caught," she told Burgess. "But he flees police and resists arrest."

Markovitz had asked for a sentence of the nine months Almos has already served, plus a conditional sentence of two years that would turn into jail time should he be caught in Canada again.

Claims sister is dying

Outside court, the lawyer said the situation presents a dilemma for taxpayers who are now paying to keep a man in Canada after repeatedly trying to force him to leave.

"On one hand you want to deter people from coming into Canada illegally — but on the other hand, you don't want to have to spend a significant amount of money teaching them a lesson," Markovitz said.

Almos told the judge he and his girlfriend have now ended their relationship.

His sister wrote a letter to the court saying she only has two months to live and Almos said he was desperate to return to the U.S.

"I want to see my sister before she dies," he said.