Violent thief jailed for attacks on 'vulnerable' employees at Kamloops stores

Jailed for attacking workers

A violent thief has been ordered to spend nearly a year in prison after pleading guilty to a series of assaults on “vulnerable” workers at Kamloops businesses.

Graham Scott Penner, 53, was sentenced Thursday in Kamloops provincial court after pleading guilty to two counts of assault and one of theft under $5,000.

Penner became violent during an altercation with staff at Your Independent Grocer in Northhills Mall on June 11, 2023. Court heard he was asked to leave after making inappropriate comments to a worker.

During the ensuing melee, he head-butted and swung at a store manager and punched a security guard in the nose. When he was located by police and arrested, he threatened to “punch their lights out.".

Penner also assaulted a worker at a cannabis store on Victoria Street. In that case, he was asked to leave the store on Dec. 20, 2023, and responded by pushing, grabbing and punching an employee.

Penner also pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from an incident at London Drugs on Lansdowne Street on Canada Day last summer, when he threatened employees after he was caught attempting to steal $60 worth of merchandise.

“Each one of these files involves Mr. Penner entering a business that is providing a service in this community, interacting in a negative way with people working in those facilities in vulnerable positions, and acting in a very poor way, in an assaultive way,” Crown prosecutor Oliver Potestio said.

“He’s someone who is violent. His record speaks to that.”

Penner has 114 prior convictions on his criminal record, including 18 for violent offences.

“Mr. Penner has had mental health and addictions issues his whole life,” defence lawyer Courtney McLaughlin said in court.

“It’s my understanding that he began consuming alcohol at the age of nine, and that’s something that has been a struggle for him over the years.”

Potestio asked Kamloops provincial court Judge Lorianna Bennett to impose a sentence of 330 days in jail, while McLaughlin sought house arrest.

Bennett sided with Potestio and sent Penner to jail for the full 330 days.

When he gets out, Penner will have to spend one year on probation with conditions prohibiting him from having any contact with any of the complainants and possessing weapons, among other terms.

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