A man who went on a drug-fueled robbery spree in late 2016 in Abbotsford and Chilliwack was commended in court on Friday for his efforts to turn his life around in the two years he has been in jail.
Scott Kuebeck, 30, was sentenced in Abbotsford provincial court to four years in prison for the nine counts of robbery to which he previously pleaded guilty.
He was given three years’ credit for the time he has already served, leaving him with one more year in prison. His jail term will be followed by three years of probation.
Judge Jill Rounthwaite said Kuebeck’s crimes had caused psychological harm to his victims. But after listening to the sentencing submission from his lawyer and to Kuebeck’s tearful apology in court, she said she believed that his remorse was “very real” and “genuine.”
She said it’s “run of the mill” for a judge to hear from criminals that they have found religion or that they’re sorry and won’t do it again, but she felt that Kuebeck was sincere.
“You have impressed me with your attitude toward the offence and the degree to which you have tried to work on rehabilitative steps since you have been in custody,” Rounthwaite told Kuebeck.
Kuebeck was initially charged with five robberies, which was upgraded to 13, but he pleaded guilty a year ago to nine of them – six in Chilliwack and three in Abbotsford. All but one were committed in December 2016.
Crown lawyer Christopher McPherson said Kuebeck was a heroin user at the time of the offences and owed a significant drug debt to people who were after him to pay up.
Of the nine robberies to which he pleaded guilty, three were at banks and six were at other businesses, including a restaurant, two hotels and a coffee shop.
Kuebeck produced a knife in five of the incidents, and said that he had a gun in two of them, although he was not carrying one.
In most of them, Kuebeck handed over a note in which he demanded cash.
“I want $1,500 in $100 bills – no dye packs, no tracers. Do not make a scene and there won’t be a problem,” McPherson said one of the notes read that was handed to a bank teller.
In another instance, Kuebeck walked around the counter to access the cash register, pulled out a knife and grabbed the worker’s cellphone.
McPherson said one of the ways that investigators were able to first link Kuebeck from one crime to the next was that victims provided a similar description of the knife that was used.
McPherson said five of Kuebeck’s victims provided statements about how the crimes had impacted them. They describe ongoing feelings of anger, anxiety and fear, and two of them – including one who was just 17 years old – quit their jobs afterwards.
One victim described the robbery as a “life-changing event.”
Kuebeck was arrested in Abbotsford on Jan. 1, 2017, after robbing a jewelry store in Sevenoaks Shopping Centre. Police, with the use of a canine unit, discovered him hiding in some bushes not far from the scene.
He has been in custody ever since.
Defence lawyer Tony Lagemaat said Kuebeck grew up in a home rife with addiction and physical and sexual abuse, and himself has been a drug user since the age of 12. He has been in and out of treatment, Lagemaat said.
But he said Kuebeck has made significant progress in prison to deal with those issues, including completing his Grade 12 and taking every course available to him in areas such as life skills and addiction management.
He even completed one course twice, and, through the Wraparound Program, has given speeches to prevent at-risk kids from getting involved in crime.
The judge received copies of the certificates Kuebeck had obtained, and she said it was the most she had ever seen anyone complete during their time in prison.
Lagemaat said Kuebeck plans to enter a treatment program in the community when he is released from prison, and his long-term goal is to become a drug and addictions counsellor.
He said that, while Kuebeck has been in custody, he has come across the people to whom he owed his drug debt. They told him that as long as he stays clean, his debt will be forgiven, Lagemaat said.
Kuebeck addressed the court by saying he is “deeply sorry” to his victims for the crimes he committed.
“I was in a very dark place in my life,” he said. “I was always told that I would never go anywhere in life, and I believed this for a long time. As a result of that, my actions followed suit.”
He said he has worked hard to change his life and to identify and understand the issues with which he has struggled. He said he now wants to give back to society and “possibly save lives.”
Kuebeck told Rounthwaite that he had written letters of apology to his victims, and the judge instructed his lawyer to ensure they get to those people.
Rounthwaite praised Kuebeck for the progress he has made, but cautioned him to be vigilant about the issues that have triggered his drug use.
“I have no doubt whatsoever, as long as you keep following the right path, you in fact will be able to make something of your life,” she said.