jail cellOne of two men involved in a string of gas station robberies while armed with an imitation handgun has been sentenced to two years less one day in jail.

Joshua Beaver, 27, of Hagersville appeared Wednesday in a Superior Court of Justice in Welland and entered guilty pleas to 12 charges that included multiple counts of robbery while armed with an imitation handgun, wearing a disguise while committing a criminal offence, arson and possession of stolen property.

The robberies took place at gas stations in Pelham, Thorold, Cambridge and Hamilton. The offences took place between Dec. 20, 2013, and Jan. 4, 2014.

Another accused, Nicholas Hill, 30, of Jarvis, still has matters before the courts.

Crown attorney Tyler Shuster said the investigation involved police in Niagara, Hamilton and Waterloo, along with assistance of the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Erie County Sheriff’s Department helicopter.

Two of the local robberies included the Dec. 28, 2013, armed holdup of the Target gas station at 151 Hwy. 20 in Pelham and the Jan. 3, 2014, armed robbery of Danny’s Esso at 13210 Hwy. 20 in Thorold.

Court heard two men would enter the gas stations armed with an imitation handgun and demand cigarettes and money from the attendant. The property would often be placed in large hockey bags and the men would flee the scene in a stolen vehicle. The stolen vehicles would often be set on fire shortly after the robberies.

On Jan. 13, 2014, a Niagara Regional Police officer spotted a possible target vehicle from one of the robberies and tried to stop it on Regional Road 20 in Pelham. There was a pursuit and ended at a dead-end in West Lincoln after a spike belt put the vehicle out of commission.

The two occupants ran off in separate directions. One was captured after a four and a half hour search that involved police K-9 and a helicopter from the Erie County Sheriff’s Department. Beaver was arrested at a gas station at Hwys. 20 and 24 in Pelham where he was trying to catch a ride to Brantford.

After Beaver was arrested and released, he was involved in another incident in Hamilton on Feb. 23, 2016, that also involved a stolen vehicle. He had been prohibited from being in the driver’s seat of any vehicle.

Beaver told the court he was “sorry for causing so much grief” to his victims.

The Crown said a range of sentence for the offences was six to eight years. Beaver was given credit of 17 months for his pretrial custody plus an additional credit of 26.8 months for his cooperation with police and providing them with a detailed statement of the events.

Justice Paul Sweeny sentenced Beaver to two years less a day followed by three years of probation. His terms include not to have any contact with his victims and not to possess any weapons, firearms or ammunition for life.

Source: Welland Tribune