Pubdate: Tue, 23 Oct 2001
Source: Whitehorse Star (CN YK)
Copyright: 2001 Whitehorse Star
Author: Sarah Elizabeth Brown


A young man from Old Crow asked his lawyer to get him sentenced to a 
federal prison Monday because the help he wants to kick his crack cocaine 
habit isn't as good in Yukon jails.

In court yesterday afternoon, territorial Judge John Faulkner handed 
19-year-old Richard Linklater 30 months in a federal prison, along with a 
10-year firearms prohibition and an order to provide a DNA sample for the 
national registry.

Linklater pleaded guilty to robbery, break and enter and escaping lawful 
custody. He jumped the Whitehorse Correctional Centre's fence Sept. 7 and 
was loose for a little more than a day.

While he was unlawfully at large, he broke into a Whitehorse business and 
stole a bank card. The robbery charge was from an unrelated January theft 
at a local used book store.

Defence lawyer Kimberly Eldred said the impetus behind the crimes is a 
crack addiction.

"Unfortunately, that is something we are having more in courts in the 
Yukon," she said.

She said the jail break was an attempt to go to a place where he could get 
crack, while the break and enter and robbery were aimed at getting money to 
feed his habit.

She said Linklater wanted to spend his jail time in a federal prison 
because the addictions treatment in the Whitehorse jail system is aimed 
more at alcohol and not specifically for cocaine addictions.

"My client has indicated to me he just wants to find a way to get off the 
crack because he realizes that has put him in a cycle of property crime," 
said Eldred.

She said Linklater wants to return to his Old Crow home and become a 
productive member of his first nation if he gets clean, but he recognizes 
that's not possible in his current state.

Both lawyers and the judge agreed the robbery charge was a "step up" for 
Linklater because it was his first crime involving violence.

At about 4:30 p.m. last Jan. 17, he walked into Zack's Books on Second 
Avenue. A female clerk in her 50s was alone in the store when Linklater 
came up from behind and put his arm around her neck, putting her in a choke 
hold and demanding she open the till.

She complied and he took about $200 in cash and coins. Before leaving, he 
ripped the phone out of the wall.

The RCMP couldn't find Linklater based on the victim's description. When 
police arrested him later on another break and enter charge, she couldn't 
pick him out of a photo line-up.

"The robbery is certainly one step up for Mr. Linklater, because it 
involved violence, said Crown prosecutor Cindy Freedman. Eldred said while 
it's not an excuse, Linklater ascribes the robbery to his desperation to 
get more crack.

Linklater had been in jail since July 11 after receiving an eight-month 
sentence for two break and enter convictions and one probation breach 
conviction. Jail staff noticed Linklater was missing after he failed to 
return from kitchen duties in the prison.

Police caught up with the young man a day later while Linklater was 
standing in line at a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce bank machine. He 
had $527.75 in cash on him and a bank card with its PIN number from 
Northern Metalic Sales. Linklater admitted to the RCMP he'd broken into the 
business, stolen the bank card and withdrawn between $600 and $700. Back in 
jail, Linklater decided to clear up all his outstanding charges and on 
Sept. 24, admitted to the investigating officer he'd robbed Zack's Books 
back in January. Both lawyers noted the RCMP wouldn't have solved the case 
if Linklater hadn't confessed.

As well, both the defence and Crown lawyers agreed that Linklater should be 
sentenced to about 28 months in jail.

Citing Linklater's "absolutely horrendous prior criminal record," Faulkner 
instead gave the young man 30 months in a federal prison.

The sentence breaks down to two years for the robbery, to be served 
consecutively to his current jail time.

The break and enter netted him another six months, also consecutive to his 
other sentences. Four months in prison for the escape from jail will be 
served concurrently.

Eldred argued that because the book store robbery was Linklater's first 
violent crime and DNA samples wouldn't have solved the case, Linklater 
shouldn't have to provide samples for the national registry.

Faulkner said the accused's privacy and personal security issues were 
overridden by the public's interest, given Linklater's criminal record.
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