Crown seeking 7-8 years for man who robbed senior citizens in their home

Justin Haynes pleaded guilty to a variety of charges related to a pair of home invasions in September. He is likely facing between four and eight years in prison, based on submissions by the Crown and defence. (Ted Dillon/CBC - image credit)
Justin Haynes pleaded guilty to a variety of charges related to a pair of home invasions in September. He is likely facing between four and eight years in prison, based on submissions by the Crown and defence. (Ted Dillon/CBC - image credit)

An elderly couple was enjoying a quiet night at home on Maunder's Lane in St. John's when Justin Haynes and Jonathan Hurley came storming in.

According to an agreed statement of facts read aloud in court on Friday, the 90-year-old man and 88-year-old woman were pushed to the floor, roughed up and robbed of their wallets, jewelry and $600 cash.

They both suffered defensive wounds and deep bruising on their arms. The man had a cut on his head. The woman complained of back pain en route to the hospital, saying she was kicked in the lower back while being robbed.

Haynes, 32, apologized for his actions at his sentencing hearing on Friday. He pleaded guilty to a number of offences related to a pair of home invasions, including assault and aggravated assault. It was his first time being convicted of a crime.

"Putting myself in the shoes of the victim brings me to a place of utmost remorse," Haynes told the judge while reading from a letter. "I can only imagine how scared the victims were, and what mental, physical and emotional anguish they must have felt and continue to feel to this day."

Terry Roberts/CBC
Terry Roberts/CBC

The court heard Haynes and Hurley met each other at Christian's Pub on George Street late in the summer of 2022. The two struck up a conversation while playing the slot machines next to each other.

Two weeks later, on Sept. 11, police were called to the house of Haynes's girlfriend and infant son. It was the second time they'd been there for a domestic dispute since June, and Haynes was ordered to stay away from the home.

The following night, he met up with Hurley at his home in Buckmaster's Circle. The court heard Hurley told Haynes they were going to rob a pharmacy. But first they needed a car.

Haynes told police they saw a woman in the window of a home on Beaumont Street and decided to knock on the door. They asked to use the phone, and when her boyfriend came to the door they stormed their way inside. The court heard Hurley attacked the boyfriend, pushing him into the wall and stabbing him twice in the back after he fell to the floor.

The boyfriend reported one of the men said, "Do you want to die? You're going to die" as he attacked him.

The two men made off in the homeowner's sedan, and zigzagged across town, hoping to avoid police officers.

They ended up on Maunder's Lane, in the east end of St. John's, and moved on to their next crime.

Terry Roberts/CBC
Terry Roberts/CBC

The court heard they had never been to the home before but picked it because it looked like an easy target. Haynes admitted he stole the elderly woman's brooch and purse, and tried to take her watch. Pictures from the hospital show a piece of jewelry still around her wrist with a large, bloody wound above it.

After the home invasions were finished, the court heard they stopped off at a drug house on the way back to Hurley's home and bought crack cocaine. The elderly couple's banking records — paired with security camera footage — show someone used one of their cards to buy three cans of pop and five packs of cigarettes.

The person later used it to load money onto his Atlantic Lottery account using the app on his phone. The lotto corporation later confirmed to police that the card was in the couple's names, while the account belonged to Hurley.

Ted Dillon/CBC
Ted Dillon/CBC

Haynes was 'full participant,' Crown argues

The police immediately circulated an internal memo with pictures of the suspects captured on surveillance cameras. The court heard four officers immediately recognized Haynes from the earlier domestic calls.

He was arrested on Sept. 13 and immediately copped to the home invasions and car theft. He also named Hurley as his accomplice. Haynes pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, something the judge will look upon favourably before handing down his sentence next Friday.

Crown prosecutor Jennifer Standen asked Judge David Orr to sentence Haynes to seven or eight years behind bars for the mix of aggravated assault, common assaults and break and enters. His lawyer, Susan Day, asked for four to five years.

Standen also asked for 40 days on the breaches of conditions related to the domestic dispute on the previous night.

"I don't want it to get lost in the other events," Standen said in her submission to the court. "I want her to recognize that we've seen her and she is not lost in the other matters."

While Haynes's lawyer stressed her client was not the driving force behind the rash of violent crimes, Standen said that shouldn't absolve him of any responsibility. Standen argued Haynes knew what he was getting into once a man was stabbed at the first house.

"To say he was anything other than a full participant is disingenuous," she said.

Mental health, addictions at the core

Day entered a pre-sentence report into the record that laid out Haynes's struggles with mental health and addictions.

He first used drugs at the age of 21 and was admitted to the Waterford Hospital with drug-induced psychosis the same year. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has had manic episodes off and on for the past 10 years.

Haynes cried when telling the judge about his 11-month-old son and his wish to be a better father for him.

"I hope to stay mentally well and sober for the rest of my time on earth," he said. "My son … does not deserve to suffer because of my actions. And I aim to be a good father and a positive influence in his life from this day onwards."

Judge Orr reserved his decision until next Friday.

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