A Whitehorse woman has been sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison for a series of crimes that included robbery, stealing a taxi and assault.
In handing down the decision last week, Judge Karen Rudy said that she hoped that Janine Firth, who has a “very troubled background” with a lengthy history of “victimization” and “self-medication,” will get the help she needs in the federal system.
Firth, 30, was arrested after being caught shoplifting from Wal-Mart in September 2012.
Store employees had seen her walk out with merchandize that she hadn’t paid for. When she came back a second time and tried to make off with more merchandise, two workers confronted her. Firth pulled out a can of bear spray, spraying one worker in the face and another in the chest.
She then jumped in a SUV and escaped.
Police arrested her at her home later that day.
She was already well known to police.
Seven months earlier, Firth was arrested after skipping out on a restaurant bill and stealing a taxi.
When police found the taxi they also found Firth’s purse with her ID, which she had left behind.
The RCMP found her at her house hiding in a back room under a pile of blankets.
When they pulled the blankets off of her she tried to spray the officers with a can of bear spray.
They shut the door to the room to minimize the spread.
Firth, who was “extremely intoxicated” and swearing at officers, refused to put the can down until she became affected by the spray herself.
After she was arrested and put in a patrol car she tried to strangle herself with a seat belt.
She continued to resist officers when they got to the detachment. After she was placed in a cell, they called in Emergency Medical Services.
Firth admitted to other thefts, including a break-in at the Eagle Plains Lodge in July 2005, where slightly more than $2,000 was stolen. She later returned half the money, the rest of which she said she spent or gave away.
Over the past year, Rudy said that she had become quite familiar with Firth while she was going through the Yukon Community Wellness Court.
Through that court process attempts were made to get Firth into a more stable situation, but “unfortunately with the resources that we had, we were never quite able to get her to a fully stable situation where she could really address the issues that she needs to tackle,” said Rudy.
Firth had made sincere efforts to turn her life around, said Rudy, who expressed hope that through the federal system will be better equipped to meet her needs.
Even Firth’s lawyer agreed that federal prison was probably the best place for her.
As part of her sentence, Firth will also have to submit a sample of DNA and will be banned from possessing firearms for the rest of her life.
Rudy sentenced Firth to 36 months in prison. With credit for time already served, her sentence was reduced to 31 months.
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