Serial bank robber sentenced in Kamloops courtroom

By Chad Klassen
February 28, 2017 - 4:14pm Updated: February 28, 2017 - 5:39pm

KAMLOOPS — A serial bank robber who hijacked nine banks across Western Canada during a two-month crime spree will spend another four years in prison. 

Shaun Cornish was sentenced to seven years in prison, minus 36 months for time served. Cornish walked away with $15,000 from those robberies, including ones in Merritt and Vernon. 

WATCH: Full report by Chad Klassen

Starting in December 2014, a picture of Cornish was seen everywhere. He was not known at the time, just a mysterious man wearing sunglasses and dark clothes and robbing banks. 

Police couldn't track him down until January 30, 2015 when RCMP arrested Cornish in Grand Prairie after robbing his ninth bank, using an imitation firearm in eight of the heists. 

Since then, Cornish has spent time in prison --- first in Alberta before transferring to Kamloops after being attacked by two inmates.

B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops heard Tuesday the series of nine robberies, starting December 1, 2014 in Princeton, where Cornish made a decoy 9-1-1 call to distract the only officer on duty.

He walked in and asked the teller how her day was going. She said "fine" and Cornish replied with "well I'm sorry, but it's just going to get worse." he pulled out a pellet gun and took off with $485. 

In each of the robberies, he entered near closing time. Cornish was disguised and aggressive in demanding money, although apologized to some employees for committing such an act --- in one instance saying "I'm a good person. I am just in a bad place."

His defense lawyer Dale Melville described how Cornish had a good-paying job with Horizon North. But he also had a serious addiction to alcohol and cocaine, which was his ultimate demise. He was fired from his job, all the while owning $60,000 in debt. 

This crisis, Melville argues, began Cornish's desperation and plan to rob banks to support his addictive lifesytle.

After lawyer submissions, Cornish addressed the court with a note he wrote while in prison. He said "I'm not here by accident. I am in prison because of the choices I made two years ago." Cornish started talking about his alcohol and drug addictions, then started to tear up and couldn't continue. His lawyer read the rest, reading that Cornish is "saddened by my former self" and "couldn't fathom stealing for something as insignificant as alcohol."

In giving Cornish a 7-year sentence, Justice Keith Bracken took into account victim impact statements, including one bank employee in High River, Alberta who quit her job after encountering Cornish, citing paranoia and having nightmares. Others say they've been stripped of their sense of security. 

According to family, this crime spree was out of character for Cornish, who had no previous criminal record, which played into the sentence, and a potential for rehabilitation. 

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