Judge rejects convicted bank teller's bid to be released on bail pending appeal

A judge has rejected a Calgary bank teller's bid to be released on bail pending an appeal hearing for her conviction in helping her then-boyfriend rob the Bank of Montreal where she worked.

Kenza Belakziz was sentenced to 18 months in jail for her role in Calgary BMO heist

Kenza Belakziz worked at a Calgary BMO when she provided her boyfriend confidential bank information so he and his friends could rob the bank. Belakziz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

A judge has rejected a Calgary bank teller's bid to be released on bail pending an appeal hearing for her conviction in helping her then-boyfriend rob the Bank of Montreal where she worked.

Kenza Belakziz, 24, was sentenced in June for her role in the November 2014 robbery.

Her appeal argued that Justice David Gates erred by dismissing Belakziz's request to withdraw her guilty plea and her request for a Jordan application, which establishes that a case must be heard within a certain period of time.

"Given the apparent weakness in the applicant's grounds for appeal … and further, given the seriousness of the offence … I agree with the Crown that the public interest in enforceability outweighs the reviewability interest," Justice Michelle Crighton wrote in her dismissal of Belakziz's application.

However, the justice directed that both the conviction and sentence appeals be heard at the first available date. 

Belakziz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery in October, but she had requested a sentence of less than six months over concerns she would be deported to Morocco, where she is originally from but no longer has family. She has landed immigrant status in Canada. 

Police closed down the intersection of Fourth Street and 23rd Avenue temporarily in Mission after a bank robbery in the area in November 2014. (CBC)

The justice sentenced her to 18 months, and had said the risk of being deported was "not a good enough reason to deviate from what is otherwise an appropriate sentence."

She argued in her affidavit that if she was not released in advance of her appeal, she would suffer harm due to a severe and deteriorating mental condition. But Crighton pointed out that the psychiatrist provided no evidence as to her condition, and said there was no reason to suggest Belakziz could not receive treatment while incarcerated.

Belakziz was working at the BMO branch in the southwest Calgary neighbourhood of Mission when she gave then-boyfriend Saleem Nasery confidential information about the bank, including its layout, silent alarm and where the money was stored. 

Nasery, along with Lucas Windsor and Matthew Valdes, tied up the employees and robbed the branch at gunpoint, but were apprehended by police outside the building. 

All three pleaded guilty. Nasery was sentenced to six years in prison, Windsor got five years and two months, and Valdes received 5½ years. 

With files from Meghan Grant