A 20-year-old mother of two young children blames depression — and alcohol — for an armed robbery which will now separate her from her family.
Karly Grace Spence pleaded guilty on Thursday to bursting into an Ellice Avenue 7-Eleven, holding a knife to the female clerk’s throat and stealing more than $600 worth of cash and cigarettes. Spence was just 18 at the time of the September 2010 attack and had no prior criminal record.
The Crown was seeking a three-year prison sentence for Spence, saying that’s the typical starting point for crimes of this type. But Queen’s Bench Justice Jeffrey Oliphant agreed to the defence request for a more lenient 90-day sentence which Spence will be allowed to serve intermittently on weekends.
"I hope you realize I’ve given you a break. I hope never to see you here in court again, because there will be no more breaks for you," Oliphant told the young woman, who was joined in court by her parents.
Spence apologized for her actions and admitted she has little memory of the night. Her lawyer told court Spence had been in a deep funk and was looking for an easy way to make some quick money.
Spence has been deemed a medium-risk to re-offend, largely because the father of her two children is a convicted criminal who is currently free on parole. Oliphant expressed concern Thursday about Spence’s future prospects given that relationship. Spence is currently being treated for a serious blood clot, which Oliphant factored into his decision along with her remorse and existing child care issues.
Police arrested Spence, and another female co-accused, near the scene of the robbery within minutes of it happening just before 9 a.m. on a Saturday, court was told. Spence was severely intoxicated at the time. The victim suffered no physical injury but was emotionally traumatized, court was told.
Oliphant’s decision to give Spence the maximum intermittent sentence also allows him to place her on three years of supervised probation, with conditions which include a nightly curfew. Probation was not available if the Crown’s sentencing request was accepted.
Spence will have to report to jail every Friday evening, and will be released from custody on Sunday afternoons. Her parents will watch her children while she’s behind bars. Every weekend will count towards three days of her sentence, meaning it will take 30 weeks to complete the entire punishment.