A man involved in a string of robberies that plagued Saskatoon businesses in October 2014 was sentenced Friday in provincial court.
Keegan Jacob Bird, 19, entered guilty pleas to nine counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery. The incidents happened between Oct. 5 and Oct. 31, 2014.
Court heard how Bird participated in the robberies along with a group of young people whose names are subject to a publication ban. They went into the businesses wearing masks and brandishing pepper spray and what was later found to be a bb pistol. From there, they forced terrified clerks to the ground and stole cash, cigarettes and other merchandise.
Most of the businesses that got hit were convenience stores, but the group also robbed an offsale. One clerk was pepper sprayed during one of the robberies.
The attempted robbery happened at the 8th Street 7-11, a mere six days after the group had already robbed it. Court heard that the same clerk was working that night. She called police after another employee reported seeing suspicious people near the store. She and another clerk hid behind the counter and called police as the group, again wearing masks, approached the door to find it locked.
Bird also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. Court heard that a man caught Bird as he was breaking into cars in early October 2014. After a struggle, the man had Bird in a headlock. Fearing he was hurting him, the man loosened his hold, at which point Bird pulled a knife, stabbing the man in the leg.
Court heard that since his arrest, Bird has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. His lawyer suggested that substance abuse problems which began in his early teens were a form of self-medication. She said Bird used money from the robberies to fuel heavy addictions to alcohol and cocaine.
Bird was sentenced to eight years in prison. After one-and-a-half times credit for 210 days spent on remand, he has seven years and 50 days left to serve.
Others connected to the robberies have been sentenced previously. All told, seven people were arrested in connection to the robberies – four young offenders and three adults.
A boy who was 16 at the time of the offences got eight months in open custody. Another boy, who was 17 during the robberies, got 22 months in youth jail and 11 months of community supervision.