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Sentencing Research – Robbery – ATM Specific – Identifying the Range


Sentencing – Robbery – ATM Specific – Range


ATM Robbery x8 Sentencing Range


  1. v. Thompson2003 BCCA 321 (CanLII), 2003 CarswellBC 1504, (B.C.C.A.) – 12 months incarceration
  • the accused entered a guilty plea to the charge of robbery after he followed the complainant from an Automated Teller Machine and snatched her purse, dragging her briefly to the ground.
  • the accused was both remorseful and genuinely wanted professional assistance for his problem with alcohol and cocaine abuse.  The sentence was a global sentence of 14 months.
  • On Appeal, fresh evidence was introduced showing that the accused’s rehabilitation prospects were significant and that there had been a change of circumstances from his situation at the time of sentencing.  While incarcerated he had successfully completed drug and alcohol programs and had been accepted into a recovery house.  This was a case where it was the accused’s first offence and new evidence before the Appeal Court tended to demonstrate a substantial chance of the accused’s rehabilitation.  Of note is that prior to the offence before the Court the accused in Thompsonhad enjoyed five years of sobriety.


  1. v. Cameron, 1998 CanLII 2142 (BC SC) – 1 year incarceration
  • In all, four individuals were robbed of their ATM bank cards and/or forced to withdraw money from their accounts or disclose their PIN numbers.  All of the offences took place in the downtown area of Vancouver and all were within 35 days of each other. The method was the same in each case.  The accused was armed with a knife of some sort and he would accost and intimidate the victims while his accomplice[s] would take the cards or the victim and obtain the money from the bank machines
  • Substance abuse played a role in the offences
  • Aggravating circumstances
    • There is some evidence of planning and premeditation involved. The method used was the same and, of course, a weapon was involved and the victims were lured to a position of isolation on the promise of the sale of drugs.  There is a previous record although not of the serious nature of these offences.
  • mitigating circumstances
    • there does not, appear to have been extensive harm to the victims. Mr. Cameron is relatively young and he is an alcoholic and has a drug dependency, all of which are mitigating factors.  Most importantly, there is his guilty plea to what really is his first truly serious offence.
  • Accused sentenced to one year in prison on each of counts of robbery to be served concurrently and to be followed by a period of probation for 18 months


  1. v. McPherson, [2003] B.C.J. No. 646, 2003 BCCA 183, 180 B.C.A.C. 158, 57 W.C.B. (2d) 187 – 20 month incarceration
  • a young accused, who was intoxicated, brandished a screwdriver to rob a 16-year-old victim of $30 from an ATM.   A sentence of 20 months was imposed and upheld.
  1. v. MacKenzie, 2015 BCPC 382 – 3 years incarceration
  • Accused pled guilty to 3 counts of robbery where he used a knife to rob 3 different elderly people at ATM’s… the offences all happened within two days
  • Defence counsel acknowledges that Mr. MacKenzie’s offences were part of a crime spree that was fuelled by his need and desire for drugs.  However, the retribution portion for consideration should be mitigated because of his addiction, and that he has a lower level of blameworthiness as a result.
  • Aggravating factors
    • Crown counsel, in relying on Brogan (supra), seeks to rely on paragraphs 10 and 11 as stated above.  Crown counsel has succinctly put into writing and verbally directed the court to the aggravating factors for consideration.  These crimes were premeditated and planned by Mr. MacKenzie.  He ensured that these crimes occurred while vulnerable victims had their backs to him and were using their ATM card at a bank machine.  He used a large knife, photographs of which are exhibited.  Mr. MacKenzie was violent towards each of the victims.  He approached each victim at an ATM machine, threatened to kill a complainant, visibly displayed a large knife, threatened to stab a complainant.  One complainant begged for his wallet and told Mr. MacKenzie that he could have the cash; however, he took everything, including the wallet itself.   He physically grabbed one complainant as he was putting his wallet away, and with that same victim, entered into a physical tussle with a senior citizen.  All of the victims were vulnerable and elderly.  Mr. MacKenzie carefully, in premeditating and pre-planning these crimes at an ATM machine, selected elderly victims.  The crimes occurred after hours and at ATM   Mr. MacKenzie has a criminal record.
  • Mitigating factors
    • Early guilty plea
    • Completion of anger management courses in custody


  1. v. Witzke, 2003 CarswellBC 919, (B.C.C.A.) – 3 years incarceration
  • Accused guilty of two robberies which occurred half an hour apart.  The first robbery involved a young woman who was at a bank machine.  The accused had a knife and demanded that she give him her wallet which she did.  There was little money in it.  Later that evening he went into a convenience store where a clerk was on duty and brandished a knife demanding and receiving a sum of money.
  • The accused was 40 years old, had a long criminal record, had a dreadful childhood but no prior offences of violence.  He was addicted to both alcohol and drugs.  The trial judge sentenced him to 18 months for each of the robberies to be served consecutively and this was upheld on Appeal.  Accordingly the accused was sentenced to a total of three years incarceration.


  1. v. Anderson, 2015 ABPC 225 (CanLII) – 4 years incarceration
  • The accused found guilty at trial of two ATM robberies, both contrary to Section 344(b) of the Criminal Code.  The first occurred on December 8, 2012, and the second occurred on December 13th, 2012, some five days later.
  • Also found guilty of two charges of possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace, contrary to Section 88(1) of the Criminal Code.  The weapons charges arise from the ATM robberies during which the accused produced a knife in each robbery.
  • The aggravating factors are as follows:
    • 1) The accused displayed a knife to both victims, which constituted a significant threat to their safety even though the knife was not used.
    • 2) Both robberies occurred at night when it was dark.  The accused targeted his victims by ensuring they were alone at night.
    • 3) The victims were alone in an enclosed area and both victims were vulnerable in terms of the physical proximity to the accused, especially when inside the small room where the ATMs were located.
    • 4) The victims were older women, both of whom were vulnerable, in terms of their age and their physical capacity as compared to the accused.
    • 5) The accused attempted to hide his face by wearing a scarf which prevented one of the victims from identifying him.  Therefore the attempt to disguise his identity I have considered as an aggravating feature to the robberies
    • 6) The robberies were both planned and deliberate but not particularly
    • 8)  The arrest of the accused was characterized by police concerns for officer safety and the safety of others within the residence since the accused failed to respond to police directions.
    • 9) The accused reoffended in relation to the failure to comply and theft under charges, while out on Judicial Interim Release in relation to the robberies
    • 10) The accused has a criminal record.
  • Mitigating Factors
    • The accused is a youthful offender and with respect to the 2014 charges, he has entered guilty pleas.
    • The accused is remorseful for his actions.
    • Accused was homeless, drug addicted and some mental health issues
  • The crimes were committed as something of a spree in the sense that the accused committed them while severely addicted to heroin within a short timeframe of one another.  The crimes were essentially the same in circumstances and pattern, even involving the same institution.  However, there were separate victims in the crimes and they occurred five days apart. The robbery offences of an ATM in the circumstances are neither a convenience store robbery nor are they the robbery of a financial institution per se
  • In this case, judge notes that the circumstances place the offences somewhere between a convenience store robbery and that of a financial institution so that an appropriate sentence for the first robbery could reasonably be somewhere between three to four years incarceration.
    • If doubled because of there being two offences this would result in an unduly harsh sentence given all of the circumstances.  The offences took place within a very short time of each other at a time when the accused was under severe use of heroin.  In addition it was the same bank and same pattern used in both of the offences and in some sense both robberies could be considered part of the same transaction of severe drug use which extended over the five day period of time.
    • Therefore, whether the offences before the Court are considered a spree in the sense of related transactions, or whether the total appropriate sentence would be unduly harsh, the totality principle in this case has clear application, given all of the aggravating and mitigating factors.  The appropriate sentence in this case is a global sentence of four years incarceration for the two robberies and the weapons charges before the Court, less time served


  1. v. MacDonald, 2006 BCCA 535 – 4 years incarceration
  • The appellant appealed a global sentence of eight years’ imprisonment imposed following his guilty pleas on three counts ofrobbery
  • Offences all happened within one week and were all robberies of convenience or grocery stores where the appellant threatened cashiers with a knife and took the money from the register
  • the appellant contended that he was motivated to commit these offences by his compelling need for drugs, He wore no disguise and, in one case, he held up a store where he was known to the staff as a regular customer.  Therobberies were not well-planned.
  • Court of appeal holds that the sentencing judge failed to give appropriate weight to the mitigating circumstances, to the positive prospects for the appellant’s rehabilitation, and to the principle of consistency in sentencing… allowed the appeal, set aside the sentences imposed below, and substitute sentences of four years’ imprisonment on each count, to be served concurrently with each other
  1. v. Wilson, 2008 ONCA 510 (CanLII)- 12 years incarceration
  • The appellant was convicted after a lengthy trial before a judge alone on ten counts of The robberies occurred over a one month span in March and April of 2003.  Six of the robberies occurred at McDonald’s restaurants and involved the victimization of employees working at those restaurants.  Three of the robberies occurred at ATM machines, where the appellant robbed four individuals who were at those machines to make withdrawals.  All of these robberies are properly described as violent serious crimes.
  • The four robberies of persons at ATM machines occurred in the Markham area.  As with the McDonald’s restaurants, the appellant was masked and armed with a large knife and a realistic looking air pistol.  In the course of the last ATM robbery, the appellant accosted two persons who were using the ATMs and demanded that each give him $1,000.
  • Appellant in this case did have criminal record and eventually received 10 years in total for all offences
  • Court of Appeal held that appropriate sentence would be 12 years, and then reduced and varied it due to time served



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