ns-carvery-jermaine-jd

Jermaine Carvery pleaded guilty to confining more than 42 employees at the Costco store in Bayers Lake Business Park. (N.S. Department of Justice)

The Crown is arguing that a notorious armed robber and escape artist should be sentenced to life in prison for a series of high-profile robberies.

Jermaine Carvery is already serving 16 years for robberies he committed in Toronto.

He has admitted he was involved in three Halifax crimes, too, robbing a Costco, a cash and carry and a shop.

In 2004, masked men stormed a Costco in Halifax just after 4 a.m. Carvery was among the robbers that confined more than 40 employees at gunpoint.

Crown attorney Shauna Macdonald described the robbery as "the stuff of Hollywood" and the result of sophisticated planning. The robbery lasted for 2.5 hours as the 42 employees were each taken at gunpoint and tied up as they arrived for work.

"They were herded like animals at one point into a delivery trailer that was pulled up to a loading dock," Macdonald said. "This was an act of urban terrorism."

Carvery also robbed a TRA Atlantic Cash & Carry in Truro and Chrissy's Trading Post in Hammonds Plains.

The Crown called him a career criminal who stole more than $1 million in cash and goods. None of that has been recovered.

'This was an act of urban terrorism.'— Crown attorney Shauna Macdonald

Macdonald said nothing the court did in the past stopped Carvery, despite his claims that he has changed.

"Society deserves to have him prove himself through actions, not words," Macdonald. "We can't move ahead with hope over experience."

The Crown noted Carvery had been caught planning a robbery while inside prison. He escaped custody in 2008 and was on the run for months.

Carvery has 39 prior offences. "What we have here is a professional criminal," the Crown argued.

Defence lawyer Kathryn Wells argued a life sentence is too harsh for the 34-year-old man. She's seeking a sentence of less than 20 years.

Carvery apologizes to victims

Carvery said his crimes were fueled by gambling. He had a large contingent with him in court, including his mother.

She shouted out, "He's going to change," before being cautioned by a sheriff's deputy. She then left the court.

Carvery's voice cracked and his family sobbed as he addressed the court.

"I'm very ashamed of it, but I do believe my life is salvageable," he said. "I'm sorry for the pain and discomfort I put them and their families through. I hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me."

Sentencing was put over to May 6 due to scheduling conflicts.