She didn’t have her face covered and didn’t carry a weapon.
In fact, Anne Kelly wasn’t even inside Shoppers Drug Mart on Commonwealth Avenue in Mount Pearl when it was held up on the evening of New Year’s Eve, 2016.
But the 40-year-old played just as big a part — if not more — in the armed robbery as did the two masked men who held a knife to a pharmacist and took off with cash and thousands of prescription pills of drugs that included fentanyl, a provincial court judge in St. John’s concluded Thursday.
As a result, Judge Jim Walsh sentenced Kelly to four years in jail. With eight months’ credit for time already served after her arrest, she has 40 months left on her term.
Kelly hung her head and cried as she was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom to the holding cells by a sheriff’s officer.
Kelly, who was convicted of one count of armed robbery and several counts of possessing stolen property, was one of four people arrested in connection with the incident. Jonathan Hurley, Jason Gosse and Christopher Hoddinott were also taken into custody.
Hurley and Gosse have already been sentenced, with each receiving between 4 ½- and 5 ½-year prison terms last month. Hoddinott’s case has not yet concluded.
While Hurley and Gosse carried out the holdup at the pharmacy with a knife while having their face masked, Kelly was considered by many to be the mastermind behind the robbery —she chose the day, helped plan it with Hoddinott, went inside and scoped out the store beforehand to find out the number of staff on duty and procured the transportation.
Police arrested the group minutes after the robbery at a home nearby, where officers found cash and thousands of pills and vials.
In all, the seizure included 1,075 codeine tablets, 923 tablets and 95 vials of morphine, 1,665 pills and 10 vials of hydromorphone, 2,153 Oxycodone pills, 32 fentanyl patches, 187 Methadone pills and 1,459 Methylphenidate pills.
Const. David Emberley of the RNC/RCMP Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, had told the court it was largest seizure of prescription drugs he had ever seen.
Dr. Lisa Bishop of Memorial University’s School of Pharmacy testified to the dangers of such drugs, noting fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroine.
During the sentencing hearing, Kelly’s lawyer Karen Reiner had suggested a jail term of less than two years, pointing out that Kelly suffered a serious drug addiction and felt remorseful for what she did.
Provincial Crown prosecutor Richard Deveau and federal prosecutor Neil Smith had concurred that only difference between Kelly and the men who carried out the robbery was that Kelly had a shorter criminal record, which included mostly thefts and court breaches.
Walsh agreed, stressing the dangers of such drugs to the public and the affects robberies have on businesses in the community.
“The fact that she didn’t carry a knife or have her face masked doesn’t really stand to help her in his case,” said Walsh, who noted that the large numbers of pills were not just for personal use and were destined for the community.
“While ‘mastermind’ is a hyperbole…, she planned the entire event … Without the planning by Miss Kelly, there would not have been any robbery.”