JAIL TELLER FOR LONGER

Calgary Herald - - EDITORIAL -

Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. The adage has en­dured for decades, but it’s per­haps never been more ap­pro­pri­ate than in the case of Kenza Be­lakziz, a young teller who pro­vided in­for­ma­tion to her boyfriend and two other men to as­sist them in car­ry­ing out a bank rob­bery.

The 22-year-old woman re­cently pleaded guilty to con­spir­acy to com­mit rob­bery in con­nec­tion with the Nov. 26, 2014, heist.

Pros­e­cu­tor Ryan Jenk­ins and de­fence coun­sel Greg Dunn want the judge hear­ing her case to sen­tence Be­lakziz to six months, less a day, in jail and place her on pro­ba­tion for two years. The pro­posed pu­n­ish­ment would give Be­lakziz, a Moroc­can cit­i­zen who has lived in North Amer­ica for most of her life, a bet­ter chance at avoid­ing de­por­ta­tion, Dunn told court last week.

It is said the woman changed her mind about par­tic­i­pat­ing in the bank rob­bery, and in­ten­tion­ally left her cell­phone in her boyfriend’s car the day of the crime so she couldn’t text him the codes she was ex­pected to pro­vide.

When the three rob­bers showed up at the bank to carry out the heist, Be­lakziz en­tered in­cor­rect codes on a safe — which is all to her credit.

“But it didn’t thwart the rob­bery,” Court of Queen’s Bench Jus­tice David Gates noted. “They still got $12,000. She didn’t call the po­lice, she didn’t even stay home, she was still there. It would be a much stronger ar­gu­ment … if she had ac­tu­ally taken some pos­i­tive steps to stop this hap­pen­ing.”

Such a dis­play of ju­di­cial wis­dom is wel­comed. Be­lakziz may have known the iden­tity of the rob­bers, but the six other bank em­ploy­ees who were re­strained with zip ties must have been ter­ri­fied by the crim­i­nals, who es­caped with $6,000.

Gates is also cor­rect in not­ing Be­lakziz’s ac­tiv­i­ties rep­re­sent a se­vere case of be­trayal of her em­ployer. She pro­vided con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion about the branch to the men, in­clud­ing a list of em­ploy­ees who would be at work that day, the in­te­rior lay­out of the bank and the var­i­ous lo­ca­tions where cash was kept.

The judge, who has ad­journed sen­tenc­ing un­til Nov. 1. so Dunn can pro­vide fuller in­for­ma­tion about how Be­lakziz’s sen­tence might im­pact her im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, ob­served that five years is gen­er­ally the start­ing point for bank rob­bery.

Gates shouldn’t worry too much about Be­lakziz’s plight. It’s the guilty who should con­sider the con­se­quences of their ac­tions. The pu­n­ish­ment should ac­com­plish what all fair sen­tences aim to achieve: re­flect so­ci­ety’s re­vul­sion for the crime and seek to de­ter oth­ers from sim­i­lar wrong­do­ing. If that re­sults in Be­lakziz’s de­por­ta­tion, so be it.

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