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Pleading guilty was a good choice, judge tells Andrew Parsons, since he would have been convicted anyway
Two judges, two courtrooms, two armed robberies — and in the end, one federal prison sentence for Andrew Parsons.
Parsons, 28, made two court appearances in St. John's Tuesday for sentencing: one in the morning on charges related to the armed robbery of a Kelligrews convenience store, and another in the afternoon on charges connected to the armed robbery of a Holyrood gas station. Both robberies took place on Feb. 22.
In both instances, the judge noted the seriousness of the charges, and the particularly high number of armed robberies in the St. John's area.
In both instances, Parsons expressed regret when given the opportunity to speak.
"I'm truly sorry for my actions," he said, apologizing to the store clerks and telling the court he had been motivated by an addiction to crack cocaine.
"You were caught on video by a store manager who knew you from high school days. Not exactly sophisticated," Judge James Walsh remarked, before sentencing Parsons for the armed robbery at Red Bridge Variety. "You were in a big, white Under Armour hoodie. Easy to ID. You terrorized the store clerk. She's almost desensitized."
"You were caught on video by a store manager who knew you from high school days. Not exactly sophisticated." — Judge James Walsh said to Andrew Parsons
Parsons had originally pleaded not guilty to charges from the store robbery, but changed his plea after the first day of his trial, when a plainclothes RNC officer testified to having witnessed him enter the store with his hoodie pulled tight around his face and run out seconds later.
The officer had been tailing a vehicle around C.B.S. the evening of Feb. 22 as part of a different investigation, and realized, when he saw the car park near the store and Parsons get out, what was happening. By the time the police officer reached the store, Parsons was running out with cash and scratch lottery tickets, having wielded a large knife and told the clerk she was dead if she pushed the police alarm.
The police officer chased Parsons through residential backyards, and the RNC's K-9 unit then tracked Parsons to the North Atlantic gas station on the C.B.S. Highway. Parsons was captured on video as he asked the store manager, with whom he had gone to high school, to call him a cab.
Police issued a public appeal for information on Parsons' whereabouts, saying he was one of three men suspected in the robbery. Parsons turned himself in without incident two nights later.
In court, defence lawyer Sarah Evans said Parsons is the father of three small children and fell back into an old drug addiction after he was denied access to them after he was charged with shoplifting from a gas station in 2018.
He went into a "downward spiral" that ended with the armed robberies, she said, and has been participating in rehabilitation programs in prison since his arrest.
Evans presented the same arguments to Judge Colin Flynn later in the day during Parsons' sentencing for the 2018 theft and the Holyrood armed robbery, in which he held up a Circle K store while armed with a hammer.
Evans asked the judge to consider the two robberies as a single criminal adventure and allow Parsons to serve both jail sentences at the same time.
Prosecutor Jacqueline McMillan pointed out Parsons' criminal record, which includes a conviction for armed robbery in 2011 as well as other crimes, and asked Flynn to accept the Feb. 22 robberies as two separate incidents with consecutive sentences.
Both judges gave Parsons prison sentences of about four years and three months, with Flynn ordering Parsons to serve the sentences concurrently.