‘I have a gun. This is a robbery’
Barrington man tells court prior to his sentencing he’s disgusted by his behaviour
A Barrington man told the court prior to his sentencing for an armed robbery, numerous break and enters, and an assault with a weapon committed against a person who had been shot and later died, that he was deeply ashamed.
“I'm totally embarrassed with myself and disgusted with myself,” said Gordon Hein. “My actions were inappropriate. It doesn't matter if I was under the influence or not. I'm okay with whatever is imposed on me.”
Hein, 39, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.
The court didn't detail his upbringing and background verbally during the sentencing, but it was addressed in a prior sentencing circle and also a Gladue report, which is a report that outlines the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders.
“It is such a failure of society and those around you that you had to live as a child through the horrific conditions and trauma that you did,” said Judge James Burrill. “Nobody should be surprised that because of that, you turned to drugs and then crime to support that drug habit. As a child, you deserved much better.”
But Burrill said the court had to deliver a sentence that serves as a deterrent.
The charge of assault with a weapon, for which Hein received a year in prison, stemmed from a May 2021 homicide in Yarmouth. After a dispute involving drugs at a residence, a 41-year-old man was shot in the back by Yarmouth resident James Spurrell. As the man fled after being shot, Hein sprayed him with bear spray.
The victim, Kyle Van Drunen, later died from the gunshot wound.
Crown attorney Chelsea Cottreau said there was no indication the victim was hit with the bear spray and no indication that Hein knew the gunshot was going to be fatal. Spurrell received a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter.
An armed robbery added five more years to Hein's sentence. During his June 8 sentencing the Crown described the late morning August 2021 robbery at the CIBC in Barrington Passage.
A male wearing a black hoodie entered the bank without a mask. He was given a mask by a worker due to COVID rules in place. The man handed a bank teller a note that said: “I have a gun. This is a robbery. As long as you cooperate, no one will get shot.”
The note demanded loose bills from the teller's cash drawer.
The bank teller gave the man $1,145. He left and 911 was called. From bank video surveillance the RCMP identified the suspect as Hein. In a police statement he confessed, saying he had been “on a tear” while abusing drugs.
“He told them that he owed people money,” Cottreau said. "He was asked if he got enough money in the robbery. He stated it wasn't close enough to the amount.”
The court was also told of numerous break and enters and thefts that Hein committed. Locations included a store in Port Maitland, Yarmouth County; and numerous businesses in Halifax, Dartmouth, Sackville and
Waverly. Doors and windows were broken to gain access. Often cash registers were stolen.
At many crime scenes, blood was left behind that the RCMP was able to match to Hein since his DNA was in the national databank.
For these break and enters and thefts, Hein received one more year of custody.
Hein's criminal record includes convictions of break and enter, theft, parole violations, aggravated assault, substance abuse, sexual assault and failure to comply with court orders.
He spent 655 days on remand prior to his sentencing. At one-and-a-half credit he was given an overall credit of 983 days. He was credited another 72 days for conditions at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Centre in Burnside that because of COVID and staff shortages saw inmates kept inside their cells for long periods, coupled with no programming.
This reduced Hein's total sentence of 2,555 days to 1,500 days to be served.
Hein's lawyer, Billy Sparks, said during the sentencing circle Hein was very forthcoming about the damage he had inflicted on the community and expressed significant remorse to his victims and his family.
“It's clear from the facts that he has significant substance abuse issues. All of the events were related to his drug use and involvement in the drug trade,” he said.
He said Hein has achieved sobriety before and has the ability to deal with his substance abuse and is actively seeking programs and supports.
Ultimately, Judge Burrill said every individual is responsible for their actions and must be held accountable. Still, punishment and rehabilitation must be considered.
“I refuse to accept that there is no hope for him,” Burrill said. “That hope comes from his acceptance of responsibility and his willingness to get help.”
Burrill said for now the best place for Hein is in a federal institution. “Take advantage of help at every turn that it's offered to you. That will give you the best hope of achieving your goal of staying crime free and drug free.”