Surrey masked robber loses appeal on strength of probation officers identifying him

Judge found the probation officers ‘had the appropriate degree of familiarity with the accused’

So much for wearing a mask.

Convicted robber Nathan Robert Wayne Field found out the hard way that concealing his face during a robbery wasn’t enough to get him off the hook. An unfortunate series of events, for him, sealed the deal.

He was convicted of robbery and having his face masked with intent to commit an indictable offence. Identification was the sole issue at his trial.

A clerk at the Surrey Central Inn was robbed by two masked men armed with a gun, on Nov. 20, 2014. Shortly after, there was an attempted carjacking. According to the Crown, the robbers arrived by taxi to the motel and attempted to jack a car to use in their get-away, but Field was acquitted of the carjacking.

“The trial judge was not satisfied that the identification in relation to the carjacking was sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and he acquitted Mr. Field of that charge,” Appeal Court Justice John Hunter noted in his reasons for judgment.

Police circulated photos taken from inside the taxi, though, and two probation officers who’d worked with Field subsequently recognized him.

Field appealed his conviction, but it was upheld. At trial his lawyer argued the photos were of poor quality but the judge found the probation officers “had the appropriate degree of familiarity with the accused,” Hunter noted.

“The trial judge considered the circumstances of the witnesses’ interactions with Mr. Field and, importantly, the time frame of those interactions, in concluding that their evidence would be helpful to him,”

Hunter said he was “unable to see any error in the way in which the trial judge weighed the recognition evidence” and dismissed the appeal.

Justices Robert Bauman and Mary Saunders concurred.

The case was heard in B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver.

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tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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