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David Wayne Murray also threatened police during Wigmore Court standoff
David Wayne Murray’s robbery of a gas station convenience store in April 2019 wasn’t of the type a judge often sees in court. For starters, it was a spontaneous crime, completely unplanned.
Not only did Murray enter the store with his face and tattoos visible, he told the clerks his name and wrote it on a piece of paper.
Murray, now 37, had entered the Kenmount Road Circle K store around 4:30 a.m. and asked one of the two clerks to check his lottery tickets. When the clerk told him that he couldn’t because the system was down, Murray accused him of lying and asked for his name. Murray then wrote down his own name, saying, “I’m David Wayne Murray.”
Murray asked the staff to call him a cab, then bought a drink in a glass bottle. A few minutes later he asked the clerks to call the taxi company again to see how much longer he would have to wait, and was told five minutes. He asked the staff if they had called the police; the men said no, only the taxi company as he had requested. Murray then went behind the counter, smashed the bottle and stepped toward one of the clerks with the broken glass raised in the air, saying, “Give me all the money.” The clerk punched Murray in the face and forced him out of the store, locking the door behind him.
- UPDATE: Alleged standoff ends on Wigmore Court in St. John's
- Man gets 14-month jail term for attack on fellow inmate
Police ran a criminal record check on Murray and discovered he was bound by a court order to remain inside a Wigmore Court residence between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. They went to the neighbourhood, where a taxi driver told them that he had just dropped off a man matching Murray’s description. Soon afterward, the RNC officers heard Murray yelling obscenities at them and threatening them with what he said were a gun and a knife.
“I'll shoot you. I’ve been dreaming about this for years,” he told police, while also making suicidal comments.
The RNC officers called for crisis negotiators, and Murray eventually allowed them inside the residence, where he was arrested before being taken to hospital.
Murray was scheduled to go to trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court last April, but the matter was postponed until Monday morning, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He pleaded guilty to charges of robbery, uttering threats and breaching a court order.
Prosecutor Jessica Gallant presented Murray’s 36-page provincial court record and said he had also been convicted in Supreme Court in 2015 of assault with a weapon — a charge related to the serious beating with a broomstick of a fellow inmate in Her Majesty’s Penitentiary a year earlier.
She noted Murray appeared to have been suffering from a mental-health crisis at the time of the robbery in 2019.
“It would be fair to say this falls into the category of an atypical robbery,” she told Justice Sandra Chaytor. “When you look at the totality of this event, Mr. Murray was exhibiting some inexplicable and erratic behaviour.”
Nonetheless, Murray’s crimes were serious and the consequences of his actions could have been much worse, Gallant said, for himself as well as others. She also noted mental-health issues are a factor in many armed robbery trials.
“We’re dealing with an individual who has shown he has, at minimum, a temper issue, perhaps linked to a mental health component there, but it is concerning that you have an individual who (reacted) the way he did, by breaking a bottle and threatening robbery and going on to threaten police officers.”
Gallant suggested a 3 ½-year jail term for Murray, minus credit for the time he has spent in custody, followed by two years of probation.
Defence lawyer Tim O’Brien’s suggestion wasn’t much different: three years minus time served, and the maximum three years of probation.
Murray has multiple mental-health diagnoses and was seeing a doctor at the time of the robbery, O’Brien told the court.
“The facts suggest this is an individual who was going through a mental-health crisis that night,” O’Brien said. “On the night in question, a lot of these issues were boiling over and reached a head where Mr. Murray made a spontaneous decision to break the law.”
Murray spoke only briefly when the judge asked him if he had anything to say.
“Nothing other than I will respect any decision you record,” he told her.
Chaytor will deliver her sentencing decision Feb. 1.