North

Yellowknife bank robber sentenced to two and a half years in jail

A man from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., has avoided penitentiary time for robbing a Yellowknife bank last year. In territorial court in Yellowknife on Wednesday, Robin Kelly was sentenced to just under two and a half years in jail for the knifepoint robbery.

Bank teller says she feels she will forgive him 'over time'

At about noon on Feb. 13, 2019, the First Nations Bank in Yellowknife was robbed by Robin James Kelly, who was brandishing a knife. On Wednesday, Kelly was sentenced to just under two and a half years in jail. (Richard Gleeson CBC)

A man from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., has avoided penitentiary time for robbing a Yellowknife bank last year.

In territorial court in Yellowknife on Wednesday, Robin James Kelly was sentenced to just under two and a half years in jail for the knifepoint robbery. With credit for time served, the 35-year-old has two years left on his sentence. He will be on probation for 18 months following is jail time.

The sentence was recommended by both the prosecutor and Kelly's lawyer.

The RCMP released this surveillance photo while investigating the robbery. They arrested Robin James Kelly five months after he pulled a knife on a teller and demanded money. (RCMP)

Kelly was hoping to continue a four-day booze and crack cocaine binge when he entered the First Nations Bank on 48th Street at about noon on Feb. 13, 2019, according to an agreed statement of facts read out in court on Wednesday.

He was wearing a beige jacket, with a dark hood and a neck warmer covering his head and face. A teller greeted him as he entered the bank. He showed her a knife and demanded money. The teller opened a drawer with money in it and stepped back as Kelly took out two American $100 bills and a stack of 25 $5 bills.

The stack of fives was a decoy bundle the bank had set up for robberies. It had recorded the serial numbers on all of the bills.

Prosecutor Blair McPherson said though the bank had a number of surveillance cameras only the one at the entrance was working. McPherson said RCMP investigators canvassed businesses. By checking their surveillance videos, they determined that he fled through alleys to the downtown where he bought a mickey.

"It was very much a crime to feed his drug and alcohol addiction," said McPherson.

Despite police releasing a still image from the surveillance camera in the bank, Kelly remained at large until his arrest almost five months later.

Victim in court for closure

The teller who dealt with Kelly during the robbery was in court for the sentencing, but never had a chance to give her victim impact statement, which she completed in the waiting area before entering the courtroom. She said she came to court seeking closure after the incident.

Because both lawyers were speaking in court by phone, it appeared neither was aware the victim was in court. She never got a chance to deliver her statement. The woman said the incident had a lasting effect on her.

"It was a shock," said the teller after the sentencing. She said she thought about it every time a male customer approached her.

Kelly, who appeared by video from the North Slave Correctional Complex, apologized to her and the other bank employees just before being sentenced. 

I wish they find in their hearts to forgive me for what happened that day.- Robin James Kelly

"I can't imagine what I put them through," he said. "I wish they find in their hearts to forgive me for what happened that day."

Asked if she forgives Kelly, the victim said, "I think I will over time, yes."

Kelly and his partner moved to Yellowknife from Fort Good Hope to get away from all the alcohol there, according to a background report prepared for the sentencing. They have three children together and she is now pregnant with their fourth.

Kelly's lawyer said the move to Yellowknife went well at first, with them buying a home and starting up a construction company. But things took a turn for the worse as financial pressures related to the business mounted.

"In 2018, likely after he was exposed to use of crack cocaine, things just went out of control," said defence lawyer Baljindar Rattan.

Kelly lost his business, and the home he and his partner bought is now in foreclosure.

Kelly's legal troubles are not over. In January, after being released on the bank robbery charge, he was charged with assault causing bodily harm and violating his release conditions.

His trial on those charges is scheduled for June 10.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now