(This story originally appeared in the Feb. 4, 2016 edition of the Chilliwack Times)
Local drug dealer and self-described gang member Curtis Vidal was sentenced to eight years in jail in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack Tuesday for a violent home invasion that traumatized four young residents.
Vidal’s co-accused Travis Soderstrom was sentenced to seven years for the Dec. 16, 2013 incident at a McIntosh Avenue apartment.
Crown counsel Henry Waldock had asked for eight to 10 years for Vidal and eight to nine years for Soderstrom.
During sentencing submissions on Feb. 2 for Vidal, his lawyer Darcy Lawrence argued that Crown’s position was too harsh and that despite his client’s approximately 55 convictions over the last 20 years, he hasn’t been convicted of a violent offence in a decade, which would be an aggravating factor.
“It is clear Mr. Vidal has a significant history,” Lawrence told the court, but added, “there are very few offences of violence.”
Justice Brian Joyce replied by asking if it wasn’t true that Vidal had spent more than half of the last decade incarcerated, asking how he could commit more crimes while in jail.
Lawrence responded that the crimes he has been convicted of in recent years have been non-violent: driving, drugs, firearms and breaches.
“I’m not trying to whitewash his significant criminal history, not at all,” Lawrence said.
As for the home invasion in question, Vidal’s lawyer said neither the main victim of the robbery nor the other three victims suffered any lasting traumatic effect, nor did they provide victim impact statements.
The incident on Dec. 16, 2013 involved Vidal and Soderstrom getting a woman to knock on the door of an apartment, which, when answered, they entered, Vidal with a gun. The gun was pointed at one man, another jumped off the second floor balcony and called 911.
The apartment’s tenant arrived home moments later, was punched by Vidal and robbed of hundreds of dollars. He also had the keys to his BMW and motorcycle taken, both vehicles were later stolen.
Vidal’s lawyer asked the court for a sentence of two years for the break-and-enter charge, two years for the robbery of one victim and five years for the main robbery, to run concurrently in addition to a mandatory minimum one-year sentence for the weapons charge to run consecutively for a global total of six years.
Lawrence calculated that based on 521 days of time served and a 1.5-to-one credit, Vidal should get an effective sentence of three years and 10 months.
Waldock had argued last year to the court that the two men should not get the normal 1.5-to-one credit, but Lawrence said he could find almost no precedents where it wasn’t given.
Joyce agreed with Lawrence, suggesting that in his research all but the most of extreme cases of convicted individuals who are not likely to get parole was 1.5-to-one given.
“These are not Robert Pickton or Clifford Olson or Paul Bernardo,” Joyce said.
Given time served, Vidal’s sentence from today is four years, 10-and-a-half months and Soderstrom’s is three years, eight-and-a-half months.
As at other appearances, Vidal and Soderstrom chatted convivially with one another Tuesday, openly talking and gesturing at certain things said by the Crown.