Syringe-wielding thief stuck with jail term

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A Newfoundland man will spend the next two years behind bars after admitting to robbing a local pharmacy and brandishing a syringe at terrified workers.

Stephen Myles Careen, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and one count of wearing a disguise and was handed a 30-month prison term.

He was credited for the three months he already spent in custody on a two-for-one basis, leaving him with 24 months to serve.

When he got to the counter Careen handed over a note that read, “I have a gun give me your [oxycontin]and your morphine and no one gets hurt. You have 10 seconds.” The clerk, one of two employees in the store, informed him they didn’t have any oxycontin and asked if he was serious.

Careen then produced the syringe, which he used to threaten the clerk. He pushed his way into the back of the pharmacy and demanded employees open a safe.

He collected five pill bottles from the safe and ran out of the pharmacy. The owner of the pharmacy followed him out of the building.

She saw him run down the side of the plaza and attempted to follow him in her vehicle. She noticed a car leaving and, while she couldn’t definitively identify the driver as the robber, she noted the licence plate.

Police checked the plate and used it to locate Careen. When they searched his home, police found the five stolen pill bottles and clothes that matched the description provided by the two pharmacy employees.

One of the pill bottles had exactly 66 pills inside, which matched the pharmacy’s logs.

Drug addiction

Defence lawyer Kent Teskey told Judge Jeanne Burch that Careen was a young man who had been on a clean path, but for a serious addiction to cocaine.

He said Careen had foolishly tried to treat his drug addiction with more drugs and deeply regretted his actions.

Teskey said Careen wanted to be sentenced to the two-year term so that he would be able to serve his sentence in a federal penitentiary and receive addictions counselling.

Terms of two years or more are served in federally run facilities, which have more treatment and counselling programs than provincial jails.

Teskey said Careen did not want him to attempt to argue for a shorter sentence, because he needed those programs to turn his life around.

“His addiction is so pressing that he feels he needs the federal system.”

After recently moving to Alberta, Careen had been working as a crane operator at the new Edmonton Remand Centre before his arrest and was beginning to build a stable life.

Teskey emphasized if Careen can slay his addiction he has all the tools to go on to a successful life.

“At the age of 21 it is my hope and Mr. Careen’s hope that he can deal with his addiction.”

Careen spoke briefly and apologized for his actions. He hoped the robbery would ultimately lead him to a better life, because he would be able to get a handle on his addiction.

“I think ultimately it is a mistake that will change my life.”

In handing down her decision, Burch said she was also hopeful Careen could turn his life around, but also thought about the terrible fear he imposed on his victims.

“I think that could be equally as frightening, not knowing what diseases could have been in the syringe.”

Burch also imposed an order requiring him to submit a DNA sample to the national databank and a 10-year weapons ban.

A dated City of Calgary bylaw ticket for loitering was also lumped in with the charges and he was ordered to pay a $100 fine, but will pay it through jail time instead.

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