Scott Cleary, a young man whose clean-cut appearance in court Tuesday belied his record of robbing banks to feed a cocaine addiction, will find out next month what it is like to live in a federal prison. 

"I apologize to every victim. I don't want my drug use to be an excuse," said Cleary, who was convicted Tuesday of two high-profile bank robberies last spring on the Northeast Avalon. 

"No one has the right to go around terrorizing the community." 

Cleary had already pleaded guilty to armed robbery at two banks: a Bank of Montreal outlet on Elizabeth Avenue that was held up in April, and a subsequent robbery of a Royal Bank in Torbay in May. 

In both cases, the St. Philip's resident wore a mask over his face and wielded a knife. 

Court was told that Cleary found himself in a desperate need of cash while trying to maintain a cocaine habit that cost him between $400 to $800 each day. 

Cleary owed drug dealers between $8,000 and $10,000. Court was told Cleary made things worse when he tried to used cocaine that was meant to be sold. 

Cleary figured that stealing money from banks would get him the cash he needed to deal with drug dealers. 

Court was told that Cleary had been threatened over his drug debts. 

The BMO robbery yielded between $4,000 and $5,000, court was told. The Royal Bank robbery, which involved an accomplice, involved the theft of between $500 and $3,000. 

Cleary later confessed to the robberies, and told police where they could find about $2,500 he had stashed in his house. 

The Crown is recommending that Cleary receive a sentence of between three and four years in prison. 

Defence lawyer Scott Hurley is asking for a sentence on the low end of two to three years. 

Tried coke and 'that was it'

Hurley pointed out that Cleary has admitted to his crimes, has a minor record and has never been in prison before. 

Hurley told the court that Cleary comes from a good family and that there had been no indication that he was headed toward a criminal path. 

However, Hurley said, once Cleary tried cocaine, "that was it." 

Cleary maintains that he has been clean for eight months, and that he wants to take advantage of a rehab program during his sentence. 

Meanwhile, Cleary has also pleaded guilty to robbing a Circle K convenience store. While employed there, he gave away more than $2,000 in scratch tickets as a way of paying off some of his drug debts. 

Cleary will be sentenced in mid-February.