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Pillowcase robbery plot nets prison time

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They say practice makes perfect.

But that wasn't at all how things worked for Daniel Breton and his clumsy back-to-back efforts to knock over a frequently-robbed North End convenience store.

Breton, 19, was handed three years in prison Wednesday morning for his part in a failed conspiracy to rob a 7-Eleven store — a criminal plot even his defence lawyer admits was likely doomed to fail from the moment the idea to knock over the store was hatched.

"This has got to be the worst attempt at a robbery I've ever seen in my career," advocate Bonnie Gembey told court. "The execution of it is incompetent beyond belief."

Breton and a co-accused had been drinking and taking pills early on July 12 when they formed the idea to rob the 7-Eleven store at 1370 Main St. for cash and cigarettes.

The men gathered pillow cases to hide their faces and socks to cover their hands and walked from a Lansdowne Avenue home to the store.

Little did they know the store had multiple surveillance cameras and a safety policy to keep the doors locked and to buzz customers inside early in the morning.

A sharp-eyed staffer — he had been robbed eight times in the past — saw the two men on one of the cameras huddled at the side of the store assembling their disguises.

The clerk knew instinctively what was about to happen and police were called, Crown attorney Deann Sahulka said.

Breton went up to the door with the pillowcase on but fled with his co-accused, Judge Marvin Garfinkel heard. Police arrived, found nothing and dispersed.

About an hour later the two would-be robbers men returned. Again, they were wearing the pillowcase masks and were quickly spotted by staff as they walked up. Breton whipped his face-cover off and walked up behind a customer waiting to get in as if to trick his way inside. But having been made, entry was refused.

Police again were called and a police dog tracked Breton to an area off Inkster Boulevard. The co-accused was arrested soon after.

Breton gave a complete statement to police about what happened, saying he needed the money from the robbery to go see his mother.

Gembey urged Garfinkel to see the robbery plot as unsophisticated and spontaneous, thus deserving a jail sentence of 15 to 18 months.

"This is not the great train heist," she said, adding Breton's level of intoxication fuelled his impulsive behaviour.

Gembey told court Breton suffers from depression and a hyperactivity disorder and was going through very troubled times prior to the crime.

Garfinkel refused to budge from the Crown's recommendation of three years in prison.

"The circumstances of this offence are extremely disturbing," Garfinkel said, adding Breton showed a "wanton disregard" for the rights of others.

"The message must go out to him that his conduct, his behaviour, is intolerable," the judge said.

Breton's co-accused remains before the court.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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