Feroz Buksh, 44, pleaded guilty to one count each of robbery and use of an imitation firearm at a store where he broke down in tears in the middle of a demand for money from the till.
Judge Stephen Harrison accepted a joint submission from Crown and defence lawyers for an 18-month jail sentence.
“Mr. Buksh is a sympathetic character,” Harrison said.
Prior to the robbery, Buksh did not have a criminal record.
He blamed his divorce and death of his mother and brother in Fiji for sending him into a spiral where he was “homeless, broke, hungry and addicted to speed,” said Harrison, who read a letter from Buksh at the sentencing hearing.
Harrison delayed the sentencing to hear a defence submission about the impact of a sentence on Buksh’s future in Canada.
He is a permanent resident and does not have citizenship despite living in Canada since he was 11. His two adult children were in the courtroom.
Student lawyer Jay Michi told Harrison that the passage of a recent law means anyone living in Canada without citizenship and sentenced to more than six months in jail may face deportation without appeal.
Buksh walked into a store last Sept. 19 and asked a clerk for some hot food and 10 packs of cigarettes.
He tried to pay for the items with a pre-paid Visa card. When that failed he demanded money from the till and said he had a gun.
Then he began to cry, telling the clerk he would use the money to pay for bills and that he was going through a divorce.
Buksh grabbed the money and ran out. As he did, the bag broke and the contents spilled out.
Police found him hiding in a closet at a friend’s house.
“I have to say as well that robberies of this sort are far too frequent in this community,” Harrison said. “People who work these jobs in corner stores and markets should not have to fear this.”
Buksh has already spent three months in jail after he breached his bail. He will also serve 18 months' probation. (Kamloops This Week)