The ‘realities’ of a long-time addict and thief

Donned a toque and concealed his face as he walked into the downtown Scotia Bank

Confessing to two more robberies won’t cost Richard Butland more jail time.

The 44-year-old man is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for a December 2011 robbery in Nanaimo. Two months earlier, Butland pulled off a pair of robberies in Campbell River.

On the afternoon of Oct. 14, 2011, Butland donned a toque and concealed his face as he walked into the downtown Scotia Bank and announced, “This is a bank robbery. Everyone down.”

As Butland fled with the loot, it contained a concealed dye pack which went off and stained the cash just outside the bank.

But Butland kept going, hopped into a stolen car and sped away from the scene. The vehicle was later found by Mounties by 9th Avenue and Thulin Street.

Again, Butland had escaped, but officers did find discarded clothing which matched the description of the garments worn by the bank robber.

It also contained DNA evidence which came back as a match for Butland.

But getting the DNA results didn’t happen within a day like it does on the CSI shows. In fact, it took several months.

Police were still looking for a suspect when Butland committed his second robbery in two days. Once again, Butland disguised his face and wore a hat as he entered People’s Drug Mart in Willow Point, demanded money and escaped with $250.

Later that day, police were checking a suspicious vehicle when beige clothing and Tilly hat, just like the robber wore, were found inside.

A hair found on the headband of the hat was sent for DNA analysis and, again, came back months later as match for Butland.

Butland managed to get out of Campbell River, but was arrested two months later following the Nanaimo robbery.

For that crime, Butland was sentenced to four years prison. Then, last July, after the DNA evidence came back, Butland was charged with the Campbell River robberies.

On Feb. 7, Butland appeared by video in Campbell River provincial court to enter guilty pleas to the two robberies.

In exchange for the pleas, the Crown dropped charges of possession of stolen property, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, failing to stop at an accident and two counts of disguising his face to commit and offence.

In a joint submission to Judge Eldon Iverson, the Crown and the defence agreed a four-year jail term, to run concurrently with his prison sentence, would be adequate, and the judge agreed.

The court heard that most of Butland’s problems are connected to his heroin addiction which started in his early 30s. The drug life led to lengthy periods of incarceration.

Butland appeared to be doing well after moving to Campbell River and finding a good job in construction. However, his fragile world fell apart when a security check came back revealing his lengthy criminal record.  As a result, he lost the job, started living in homeless shelters, got back into drugs which led to the robberies.

“He doesn’t want this portrayed as a sob story, just the reality of his life,” said Butland’s lawyer.

Butland has 34 months remaining on his prison sentence.