Two years in prison for robbery pair

Two men have been given two-year sentences for their roles in a series of robberies targeting Lower Mainland pharmacies in late 2012.

Luke Stuart Thom Ash, 30, and Ryan Allan Olson, 28, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of robbery and one of theft under $5,000 in August. Sentencing took place Thursday in B.C. provincial court in Port Coquitlam. Olson admitted to robbing five pharmacies – two of them twice – in Maple Ridge, Langley, Abbotsford, Surrey and Port Moody between Aug. 21 and Oct. 12, 2012.

Olson, a drug addict, sought narcotics such as oxycodone.

Olson and Ash were arrested in November 2012.

Investigators found a number of text messages on Olson’s phone from before and after many of the robberies.

Before a robbery, he would often text someone to ask them to “cross your fingers,” and after he would brag about what he had done or provide a list of drugs he’d stolen and planned to sell. In statements after their arrests, both men quickly admitted to police what they had done and expressed remorse.

Judge Pedro de Couto said in his decision that the crimes showed a degree of planning and sophistication, and that the men had time for “sober second thought” because the incidents took place over a two-month period.

“There is no question that these are very serious offences,” said De Couto. However, he said there were a number of mitigating circumstances. Neither of the men had a criminal record prior to the robberies and both admitted guilt at an early stage in the process. They also both showed genuine remorse.

Based on their backgrounds, De Couto said Olson and Ash have the ability and potential to reintegrate and be contributing members of society once again.

Crown and defence made a joint submission for sentences of two years less a day followed by 12 to 18 months of probation. Olson would spend his time in jail, while Ash would serve his time in the community as a conditional sentence.

De Couto agreed with the submission and imposed a probation period of 18 months. Both men must also pay restitution to two of the pharmacies.

– Jennifer Saltman is a reporter with the Vancouver Province

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