Walnut Grove hatchet robber gets 18 months in prison


A Bonnie-and-Clyde style couple who robbed Langley merchants with a hatchet have been sentenced for their crime spree.

James Gunn and his wife Nicole Gunn entered guilty pleas to several crimes earlier this year, and James Gunn has now been sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Between December 2013 and January of this year, there were several robberies in the Walnut Grove area, mostly at fast food outlets.

A man wearing a balaclava or surgical mask would enter carrying the hatchet and demand money.

During one theft he jumped over the counter, emptied the register, and then took the petty cash from the office, said Cpl. Holly Marks, spokesperson for the Langley RCMP.

After each robbery, the man ran from the store and jumped into a nearby van driven by a woman.

The police began closing in when a BC Ambulance driver saw the van pulling away and gave police a partial license plate number.

The van was linked back to James Gunn, a Walnut Grove resident who matched the descriptions of the robber.

Marks said Langley Serious Crime section took over the investigation, and the Street Enforcement Unit helped work “on the ground” in the neighbourhood.

The final robbery took place on Jan. 25 at the Lotus Day Spa. James Gunn was seen leaving the spa and jumping into the van.

Officers tried to stop the van shortly after the robbery, but Marks said Nicole Gunn drove into oncoming lanes of traffic several times while evading capture.

Police gave up the chase and decided to arrest the pair in a more controlled manner.

On Jan. 29, officers confirmed both Gunns were in their home, and the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team entered and arrested both without incident.

Nicole Gunn, 32, pleaded guilty to one count each of robbery, flight from police, and dangerous driving. She was given a suspended sentence and 18 months of probation, along with a 10-year ban on owning or using guns and a six-month driving ban.

James Gunn, 32, also entered a guilty plea over the summer, two one count of robbery, disguise with intent, and two counts of driving while prohibited. He was sentenced this month to 18 months behind bars, two years probation, a two-year driving ban and a 10-year firearms ban.

Marks said police were very concerned about the robbery spree, and the investigation brought in many sections of the local RCMP, including the Drug Section, the Prolific Offender Enforcement Team, and general duty officers, along with regional teams like Forensic Identification, Police Dog Services, and Air One.

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