Six-year sentence for Willowbrook bank robber upheld

Leonard Evans was packing what the court described as a “firearm or imitation firearm” while his partner in crime was armed with a knife.

Six years is on the high side for bank robbery, but it’s not out of line for the gun-wielding bandit who robbed a Langley bank and then led police on a high-speed car chase, a three-judge B.C. Court of Appeal panel has ruled.

Leonard Reginald Evans was 39 years old when he and a another man donned ninja-style masks to rob the Langley Scotiabank branch in the 6100 block of 200 Street on the afternoon of June 18, 2009.

Evans was packing what the court described as a “firearm or imitation firearm” while his partner in crime was armed with a knife.

After the pair overpowered a security guard, Evans stood guard at the bank entrance while his associate leaped over the gate that separates customers from the tellers, stealing more than $15,000.

Both men shouted and swore at the bank employees and customers in the branch, threatening them and warning them not to move.

The two men left in a stolen vehicle, pursued by police.

After what the court described as a short high-speed chase, “much weaving in and out of traffic” and a near-collision with a police cruiser, the robbers abandoned the stolen vehicle and fled on foot.

Evans and his co-accused were arrested when they tried to hail a taxi.

Both were convicted on multiple armed robbery charges.

Evans was handed six years for robbing the tellers plus another year for using an imitation firearm and another six months for an unrelated April 2009 post office robbery in Hope.

Evans’ lawyer asked the appeals court to overturn the sentence, arguing six years was too long.

The appeals court judges disagreed, noting that Evans has a lengthy criminal record that includes 30 previous convictions for offences including assault with a weapon, robbery and carrying a concealed weapon.

Evans’ lawyer complained that the longest previous sentence imposed on his client was 30 months, and that the “step principle” of sentencing says jail time should only be increased by “moderate steps” with each conviction.

The three-judge panel said the principle doesn’t apply to a “career criminal” like Evans, where rehabilitation is not as important as “deterrence and denunciation.”

“While I might agree that the sentence is towards the higher end of an appropriate range I cannot say it is unfit” … said Justice Mary Saunders, in a written decision dismissing the appeal. The decision was unanimously endorsed by the other two judges.

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