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Bank robber claimed to be terrorist with bomb

City man pleads guilty to crime spree, faces deportation

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A Winnipeg man is facing possible deportation to his native India after admitting to a year-long string of bank robberies during which he claimed he was a terrorist and threatened to detonate a bomb.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2020 (777 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg man is facing possible deportation to his native India after admitting to a year-long string of bank robberies during which he claimed he was a terrorist and threatened to detonate a bomb.

Rakesh Rakesh, 43, pleaded guilty to five bank robberies committed between March 2016 and June 2017.

At a sentencing hearing last week, court was told Rakesh was riddled with debt after he was targeted by a financial scam and turned to gambling in a fruitless effort to recover his money.

Rakesh Rakesh pleaded guilty to five bank robberies committed between March 2016 and June 2017. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Manitoba gaming records provided to court showed Rakesh racked up $135,000 in losses during 171 visits to Winnipeg casinos in 2015.

“It was my addiction to gambling which took me far away from my family and reality,” Rakesh told provincial court Judge Mary-Kate Harvie. “I, who was loving and caring for everyone, turned into this person who committed robberies just to feed my addiction.”

Rakesh made off with $10,000 in his first robbery after showing a teller what he claimed was a bomb in his backpack.

In his second robbery two months later, Rakesh, who wore a fake beard and beret, handed a teller at an Ellice Avenue RBC a note demanding $20,000, claiming he was a member of the ISIS terrorist group and had a bomb.

That robbery netted him just $300 and it would be nearly a year before he robbed another bank. Court heard Rakesh, wearing a fake beard and turban, walked into a St. Mary’s Road RBC on March 9, 2017, and threatened to detonate what he claimed was a bomb under his jacket if he wasn’t given $30,000. Rakesh was given $3,700, along with a dye pack, which detonated before he could flee the bank. Rakesh discarded his turban and jacket, which police later tested for DNA, Crown attorney Breanne James told court.

Rakesh had better luck his fourth time out, robbing an Assiniboine Credit Union of $11,000 before fleeing in a SUV. A credit union employee caught the vehicle’s licence number, which police later confirmed was registered to Rakesh.

Finding success after his first robbery, Rakesh continued to modify his approach, James said

“They were planned deliberate acts,” said James, who recommended Harvie sentence Rakesh to nine years in prison. “He demonstrated that he learned from each incident.”

In his last robbery of a Regent Avenue BMO on June 26, 2017, Rakesh claimed he was a Syrian terrorist and had a bomb before making off with $12,000.

Police arrested Rakesh at home later that day.

Rakesh, who immigrated to Canada with his wife in 2011, had no record before the robberies and has made every effort to address his gambling addiction while in custody and on bail, said defence lawyer Martin Glazer

“He did a bad thing, but he is not a bad person,” Glazer said, recommending Rakesh serve no more than another 10 months in custody. “Judge him as he is, not as he was.”

Rakesh served the equivalent of 37 months in custody before he was granted bail.

Sentencing was adjourned for further submissions to address possible deportation implications. As a permanent resident, Rakesh could be subject to deportation proceedings if sentenced to six months or more in custody.

Rakesh remains free on bail.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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