A woman involved in an armed kidnapping in Richmond has been sentenced to almost six years behind bars.
Ashley Smith appeared at Vancouver Provincial Court on Wednesday for sentencing for her role in the incident last fall.
An investigation into home invasions led to four people, including Smith, being charged with armed kidnapping.
The incident took place on Sept. 8, 2021, when four people allegedly kidnapped a victim from a vehicle at gunpoint in Richmond, according to the Vancouver Police Department. A “brief pursuit” ensued and the VPD rescued the victim.
Details of the armed kidnapping in Richmond are covered by a publication ban as one of Smith’s co-accused, Harman Parmar, has opted to be tried by a judge and is scheduled to have a preliminary inquiry.
Smith had pleaded guilty to five counts, including kidnapping with a firearm and unrelated charges, such as dangerous driving and breach of probation.
Crown counsel Jeremy Hermanson proposed a sentence of eight years and three months in total, adding that the sentences, other than ones for breaches of probation, should not be concurrent as it would result in a situation where crime was “cheaper by the dozen.”
Counsel for Smith, Paul McMurray, told the court that Smith was a product of a very difficult background, where she grew up in a community that denied her Métis roots and did not receive proper schooling and medical attention.
He added that Smith did not become involved in the criminal justice system until 2020, and she had been using her time in custody productively.
Before learning her sentence, Smith addressed the court and apologized for the time, money and resources put into her case.
“A few years ago, my life took a turn down a dark and ugly road to self-destruction, using drugs and alcohol to mask pain caused by many years of trauma and abuse,” she said, adding that she was able to reflect on the impact of her actions while in custody with “a clear mind.”
“I will continue to work on myself and take advantage of any programs available to ensure a positive future, and I will be using the remorse and regret I feel every day as motivation to change for the better.
“I’m looking forward to being a better daughter and mother to my children that they can be proud of, and a productive member of society, and to stop cheating myself out of a healthy, meaningful life.”
Prior to passing sentence, Judge Ellen Gordon addressed Smith, referencing the potential she sees in her.
“I saw and I see how much promise you have,” said Gordon, asking Smith how she plans to avoid going down the wrong path again once she gets released.
“It has been a difficult lesson to learn, that’s for sure. But I’m definitely learning it every day,” Smith replied, adding that she has resources and community connections available to help her reintegrate back into the community and she looks forward to taking courses while she is in federal prison.
Smith was ultimately sentenced to four years and six months for armed kidnapping and around one year and four months for her other charges.
Two other co-accused, Michael Husain and Arjun Purewal, have pleaded guilty.
Husain awaits his sentencing, and Purewal was recently rearrested on a Canada-wide wanted warrant in August after removing his ankle monitor while waiting to be sentenced. Both are currently in custody.