Kalmikoff gets 4½ years

In December, a jury convicted Krista Kalmikoff of assisting Andrew Stephenson in several armed robberies in the West Kootenay in 2014.

In December

A local woman was sentenced to 4½ years in a federal penitentiary Tuesday for her part in two armed robberies.

Krista Kalmikoff’s actual sentence was four years and nine months, but in BC Supreme Court in Nelson, Judge Mark McEwan gave her credit for the 124 days she has already spent in custody.

In December, a jury convicted Kalmikoff of two counts of robbery, two counts of possessing stolen property worth over $5,000, and failing to stop for police.

The charges stemmed from hold-ups at the Nelson and District Credit Union and Kootenay Currency exchange in the spring of 2014. Her co-accused, Andrew Stevenson, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to his role in the crimes.

Kalmikoff was acquitted of one count of knowingly having a restricted firearm in a vehicle.

McEwan said his decision was an attempt to balance the need for Kalmikoff’s rehabilitation and the community’s need for a “denunciatory sentence.”

And he said the sentence took into account the circumstances of Kalmikoff’s life, which he described as “difficult, with complex drug, mental health, and psychosocial issues.”

He said he was influenced by the fact that while awaiting sentencing Kalmikoff was arrested for drug possession in the company of people similar to Stevenson.

McEwan said that despite Kalmikoff’s need for rehabilitation, drivers of getaway cars should not be treated differently from the principal offender.

“She enabled a highly dangerous escape,” McEwan said. “She was arrested in the commision of two violent robberies in which a firearm was used.”

Prosecutor Sunday Patola, in a media interview after the sentencing, said she thinks justice has been done.

“It is a fair sentence, and we hope she gets the help she needs. This sentence will help to show the community will not tolerate this. The principal offender got 10 years, and to show that the getaway driver will also be held accountable sends a good message to the community.”

Kalmioff’s lawyer, Blair Suffredine, said the sentence “is not unexpected, within the range of what would normally be done.”

He said it is a good thing his client will be going to a federal institution rather than a provincial one.

“In the federal system it is easier to get parole,” he said, “but it lasts for your entire time, so if she gets parole, she would be supervised for the entire term. If she goes into the provincial system, after about two-thirds of the sentence they might put you out on the street and say goodbye, so unless there is a probation order you are not supervised after that.”

Kalmikoff was also given a lifetime firearms prohibition.