Screwdriver-wielding B.C. robber leaves appeal with double the jail time

A man convicted of robbery with a weapon who asked his victim if she wanted to get stabbed will spend even more time behind bars after his case was heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Hashim Ali was found guilty of robbery and sentenced in November, but the Crown went back to court saying his sentence wasn’t enough for his crime.

The judgment in the appeal was made in mid-February, but documents were not posted online until Wednesday.

The court heard Ali approached a young woman on the University of British Columbia the night of Nov. 3, 2020, as she used an automated teller machine (ATM).

According to court documents, the woman was alone when Ali came up behind her. A section of the ruling titled Circumstances of the Offence describes Ali pressing a screwdriver into her side and demanding cash, asking her, “Do you want to get stabbed?”

She’d reported that he sounded “desperate and pushy,” the appeals court judges said, and she couldn’t actually see what the weapon was, only that it had a black handle and a silver point.

The court heard Ali told the victim to put in her PIN, then held her hand and used it to push the buttons or touch screen, selecting a withdrawal of $400.

“The victim was crying hysterically,” the trio judges wrote. He then took the money and ran, court documents say.

The court heard the victim herself and a witness who’d been in the area ran after Ali, who grabbed a backpack and changed his clothes before police arrived and took him into custody.

He was found with a screwdriver on him, police said in their report, but the $400 was not recovered.

During the trial, according to the Court of Appeal, Ali denied committing the robbery, saying that yes, he was on campus, but only to do some sightseeing. He said he had the screwdriver for work purposes.

The trial judge rejected his testimony, and the 30-year-old was ultimately found guilty.

During his trial, the court heard that Ali was from Pakistan, and had fled three years before following a conflict with his family. He said his life had been in danger, and he claimed refugee status in Canada.

Since arriving in Canada, Ali has received social assistance and has been living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He let his work permit expire, according to the court, and had a relationship at the time of the robbery with someone who was “struggling with substance abuse,” though he himself said he was not.

Based on the decision from the Court of Appeal, it appears his trial judge took into account that Ali had no history of violence and no criminal history when determining a sentence of 11 months’ imprisonment, with credit for two months he’d served before the trial. After that, he’d be released but on one year of probation.

In its appeal, the Crown said Ali’s sentencing judge gave “inadequate emphasis to the principles of deterrence and denunciation,” and described the sentence of nine months in jail as “demonstrably unfit.”

The judges sided with the Crown, putting aside Ali’s conditional sentence and imposing their own sentence of 18 months in prison, followed by two years’ probation.

With credit for time he’s already spent behind bars, he’ll be expected to serve 14.5 months more in jail.

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