Surrey bank robber loses conviction appeal

Justin Paquet unsuccessfully argued another man was responsible for 2012 heist.

A man found guilty in an armed bank robbery in Surrey three years ago has lost an appeal of his conviction.

A judge found Justin Dwayne Paquet, 26, guilty in June 2013 of robbing a TD Canada Trust in Whalley on Dec. 2, 2012, with his face masked and using an imitation firearm.

Paquet filed an appeal, arguing his conviction should be overturned.

During the trial, Paquet admitted to giving the police a false name when he was arrested, but denied he had committed the robbery – a stance corroborated by a witness, David Byrd, who testified it was him and a second person who’d robbed the bank, not Paquet.

The judge, however, didn’t believe Paquet or Byrd, who had shared a jail cell together on two separate occasions.

Following a hearing in the B.C. Court of Appeal in October, the appeal was dismissed in a judgment posted online Nov. 20.

In it, Justice Richard Goepel details that two masked individuals entered the bank that day in 2012 – an incident that was captured on video surveillance.

The robbers were given $7,500, but one of them also took $165 he saw sitting out. The small stack of cash, it turned out, was decoy money that included a GPS device that activated when picked up.

When Paquet was arrested, he was in possession of much of the decoy money. The GPS also provided police with accurate information about where the thieves were, and when, after they left the bank.

The Appeal Court justices agreed with the trial judge that there was not sufficient time for all the travelling and exchanges of money that Paquet alleged took place prior to his arrest 20 minutes after the robbery. (Byrd, it was noted, was already serving a lengthy sentence and wouldn’t have a lot to lose by giving false testimony).

“The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming,” wrote Justice Goepel, with Justices Edward Chiasson and Nicole Garson in agreement.

“The trial judge was correct in finding that the ‘only reasonable and common sense inference’ was that it was the appellant who robbed the TD bank. There was ample evidence to support that conclusion. The suggestion that the verdict was unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence is without merit.”

 

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