A Sarnia man has pleaded guilty in a Windsor courtroom to more than a dozen charges, including nine pharmacy robberies.
They are for what court was told was a "catastrophic spree of offences" in Lakeshore, Sarnia and Airdrie, Alta., over a seven month period, all fueled by opioid addiction.
In a short interval in 2016, Dustin Robinson says his life spiraled out of control after he saw his best friend die.
They were involved in a serious car crash.
The 36-year-old Robinson pleaded guilty to nine counts of robbery, including robbing Royal Oasis Pharmacy in Lakeshore of prescription drugs, three times in a row.
He also admitted to disguising his face with a mask, an attempted robbery in Sarnia and robbing a credit union in Wyoming-Ontario.
Robinson blamed a serious addiction to fentanyl.
The RCMP released images of Robinson, after he fled a court -ordered treatment program in Alberta, back in August of 2017.
He was arrested in Sarnia in October 2017 and court heard, after that, he tried to kill himself twice.
His defence lawyer, Maria Carroccia says the suicide attempts were caused by withdrawals of his opioid addiction.
But in a statement to the court, Robinson says he’s now two years sober.
“This has been the worst experience of my life, by far” Robinson told the court, after offering his “deepest apologies” to the people involved in the robberies he committed.
His sister also took the stand, describing her brother as a fun person who fell into a deep depression after the death of his friend.
At the time of his offences, she too was diagnosed with MS and the family was distracted trying to take care of her.
She begged Justice Lloyd Dean to send her brother to a prison geared to inmates with substance abuse problems and mental health programming, saying her brother was a good person who just needs help.
Robinson, too, asked the judge to send him somewhere he could continue working on his sobriety and he hopes to see a psychiatrist, to get a diagnosis for his mental health issues.
As for his sentence, Carroccia is asking for seven to eight years, while Crown attorney Jennifer Holmes asked the judge for a term of eight to 11 years.
Holmes was highly appreciative to OPP for solving these pharmacy robberies, saying it was a “lengthy” investigation to tie Robinson to the offences in Essex County and match them to those in Alberta.
She conceded, however, that the Crown's case would have taken two months to argue and was troublesome because it hinged on cellphone triangulation, that put Robinson in the vicinity of the pharmacies at the time.
The case has taken some time to get to this point, because Robinson was “quite eager” to deal with all the matters, including the Alberta charges at once.
Dean was expected to render his sentence Tuesday, but when he found two victim impact statements from pharmacy technicians in Alberta included in the case file, he chose to take some time to consider Robinson’s sentence.
But Dean says he will have it ready for Oct. 1.