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Alberta man sentenced in daring Calgary jewelry store heist

Imperial Jewelers in Calgary was robbed in November 2014.
Imperial Jewelers in Calgary was robbed in November 2014. Global News

A man has been sentenced to an extra 4 1/2 years in prison for his part in a daring jewelry store heist in which a shotgun was fired into the ceiling.

Darren James Bauer, 36, pleaded guilty Friday to committing robbery with a firearm at Imperial Jewelers in Calgary in November 2014. A trial was scheduled to begin next month.

In an agreed statement of facts, prosecutor Jason Wuttunee told court that Bauer and his common-law spouse at the time entered the store near closing time. They were wearing masks, dark clothing and carrying a shotgun.

“The accused ordered employees of the store to lie on the floor. He then began to smash the glass display cabinets with the butt of the shotgun which caused a round of ammunition to discharge into the ceiling of the store,” Wuttunee said.

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“The accused then demanded information from the employees for the location of the money box or drawer. The accused pointed the shotgun at the employees before making this demand.”

READ MORE: Staff describe armed robbery inside Calgary jewelry store

Bauer and his partner, Kathleen Cooper, emptied gold, diamonds and jewelry into a pair of duffel bags before fleeing in a truck.

Police estimated the value of the stolen goods at $200,000. The jewelry was never recovered.

Wuttunee said the Crown agreed to work out a plea deal for Bauer because there were some problems with the case. Bauer and Cooper had been wearing disguises and were only arrested months later in an unrelated matter when the shotgun was found.

The lawyer said Cooper, who gave an early confession and was sentenced to four years in prison, was not co-operating when Bauer’s case made it to the preliminary inquiry.

“She proved to be an adverse witness and claimed no memory whatsoever of not only the robbery but also the guilty plea.”

Bauer is already serving an 11-year sentence for several firearms charges, including some that were gang-related. The 4 1/2 years will be added on top of that.

“I just want to get back to doing my time,” Bauer said in his only comment to the court.

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Justice Earl Wilson accepted the plea and the sentence, which was recommended by both Crown and defence.

“This is a true plea bargain. Both sides are giving up something to gain a certain certainty,” Wilson said.

“As serious as a crime as this clearly is … there was no guarantee that there would be a conviction. Who knows how it would have shaken out?”