The wife of a 77-year-old man who was attacked and robbed at their Yarmouth County home last fall said after her husband had built their home over 40 years ago, he always felt secure when he would drive into their yard.
“Now he feels more secure driving away from home,” she read in a victim impact statement during the May 28 sentencing of one of the individuals involved.
“Forty years of comfort in our own home has been taken away, only to be replaced with flashbacks and knotted stomachs and thoughts of being watched as we sat outside in broad daylight,” she said. “It brings us the knowledge that daylight or darkness, no one is safe.”
Twenty-four-year-old Lacey Heidi Pauline Heroux was sentenced to four years in federal prison on charges of robbery, conspiracy and breach of a no-contact clause with a co-accused. She also received a small sentence on unrelated fraud charges.
Heroux’s grandfather, the court was told, had been the victim’s best friend.
Provincial court Judge James Burrill said he couldn’t help but think of what Heroux’s grandfather would have thought. At her grandfather's funeral Heroux had spoken about the friendship between the victim and her grandfather.
While Heroux was not present during the robbery and attack on the morning of Sept. 13, 2018, the court was told she helped to plan it.
That victim was in his backyard when he was assaulted by a male who was dressed in black with his face covered. The homeowner was choked, had his mouth covered and was dragged behind his van where another male, also dressed in black, held his feet.
The men said they knew he had a large sum of cash. They made him take them to the basement where a cashbox was located. Afterwards they made the senior drive them to another location. They threw his keys away and made sure he didn’t have his cellphone. After they left, the senior retrieved his keys and drove home.
In the family’s victim impact statement, the man’s wife said seeing him scratched and bleeding face as he walked in the door saying, “Call 911, I have been attacked and robbed,” is a moment she can never forget. “My safe haven has been taken away, replaced with thoughts and visions of what was and what could have been,” she said.
For her husband, she said, “Walking to the barn where he was attacked brings back flashbacks. The physical struggles he had with two strong men . . . the worry he went through hoping I would stay in the house as they told him to, ‘Be quiet, you don’t want her to come back outside,’ . . . the ‘what if’ thoughts continue to run through the whole family after such a horrid invasion of privacy.”
Heroux had stopped by the victim’s house for a visit two days before the robbery, taking mental notes, the court heard, to pass along. She was a girlfriend to one of the people charged. The victim and his family were shocked and devastated when told of Heroux’s involvement.
Judge Burrill said it was “unfathomable” for Heroux to have taken advantage of the family friendship. He said he had no doubt manipulation had occurred from other people she was associated with, but the fact she succumbed to that manipulation demonstrated “a moral deficit.”
“As I sentence her today I must say that the community has a right to be outraged,” said Burrill, who noted while the victim’s cuts and bruises have healed, the emotional scars never will.
Two other individuals were charged last fall in connection with this incident. Craig Andrew Pike is due back in court June 3 for plea. Tyler John Rawcliffe has a July 15 preliminary inquiry. Both men, in their mid-30s, were charged with counts of robbery, break and enter, unlawful confinement and wearing a disguise while committing an indictable offence.
The four-year prison sentence Heroux received was a joint recommendation by the Crown and defense. Crown attorney Alonzo Wright noted prior to her sentencing Heroux had no criminal record, there was no evidence of drug or alcohol addiction and she had availed herself to educational opportunities throughout her life.
“She was on a path of productive citizenship and then without warning it goes sideways, quick,” he said. While she was not an active participant in the robbery itself, the fact she had helped to orchestrate it made a four-year sentence appropriate, he said.
Judge Burrill agreed, saying a clear message needs to be sent to anyone considering this type of crime.
“If you are caught and if you are convicted you will go to federal prison,” he said.