Friday, 4 October 2013

Wes Devries sentenced to 3 years

Court today was... interesting.

It started off with the prosecutor handing the defence attorney 5 victim impact statements, including mine.  I was in shock when Wes' attorney said 'This is a courtroom, not a therapy session'. She also said that the victims were 'just a bunch of angry women'.  I understand trying to defend your client, but I felt that the comments this woman said were so disrespectful not only to the victims, but to the court as well.  She was fully aware we were sitting within earshot.  The judge reminded her that everything she was saying was on record and if she wanted to have a private conversation she should take it outside.  

Wes entered the courtroom in his red outfit and he snuck a peak at the victims sitting in the courtroom but quickly looked down at the ground.  His lawyer had requested that he be able to sit beside her at the table rather than in the glass-enclosed booth.  His pants were too big for him and he was wearing black socks with white slip-on shoes.  Wes always wore the highest end clothes and I hope he hates that outfit.

The prosecutor read through the 15 counts in the information and gave a brief summary of each.  

1. female victim defrauded for $3200

2. female victim defrauded for $200
3. vancity savings - defrauded for $3100
4. myself - defrauded for $2700
5. female victim defrauded for $2000
6. female victim defrauded for $1500
7. female victim - charges stayed (not proceeding)
8. female victim - theft $3000 value
9. north shore credit union - Wes had deposited 5 empty envelopes and withdrew $14,698
10. female victim - defrauded of $10,000
11. victim #10 - theft 
12. female victim - posed as a handyman to commit theft
13. bike store - stolen bicycle valued $3000
14. male victim - used cheque stolen from another victim to defraud $770
15. bike store - stolen bicycle - charges stayed

After the summary of the charges the prosecutor wanted to submit the 5 victim impact statements.  The defence attorney wanted to be allowed to read them over before submitting them to the judge.  We adjourned for lunch and had awhile to reflect on all the happenings of the morning.  What stuck with me the most was how little regard the defence counsel had for the victims.  It felt like she was purposely trying to get a reaction from us.  I would never treat another human being with such disrespect.  

When we came back from the lunch break we came in and sat down.  The defence attorney was thumbing through our victim impact statements and singing, 'Cry Me a River'.  Wow!  Couldn't believe that she had topped her morning comments.  Disgusting behaviour!

When court resumed she started out by objecting to the statements being submitted.  She said they were of no relevance, no value and highly prejudicial.  She said they made references to how Wes should be sentenced and that was inappropriate.  I wish I could have told the court that nobody in the judicial system told us to write victim impact statements, never mind gave us any directions on how to complete them.  As the victims, we took it upon ourselves to let the court know how Wes' criminal behaviour had affected us.  The prosecutor didn't fight for them to be entered but instead summarized them by saying that the  same sentiments were expressed in all the statements; all the victims felt betrayed, used, doubted their own judgements and had financial and emotional hardships as a result of their dealings with Wes.  This seemed satisfactory to both sides but I really wanted my statement to be a part of the record.  At the end of this I will post my own statement for you to read.

The defence counsel started her submission by saying that the police didn't want to pursue this matter and that any charge on its own wouldnt have stood a chance in court.  She said that Wes wanted to plead guilty and accepted the full burden of responsibility.  Then she went off on a tangent about how the unsecured loans and the money pushed at Wes was the issue.  He had met the manager of a bank at a hockey game and was asked 'What can I do for you?'.  She ranted about banks for a few minutes and then the judge interrupted her, 'You're surely not arguing that, are you?'.  She was trying to argue that the problem was that the banks trusted people.  Blame the institution, blame the victim....

She moved on and gave a history of Wes Devries.  He was born in Montreal. He was adopted at a young age.  His family moved to Kamloops when he was 7 and he blames his unhappiness there on being bi-racial.  His family members are successful, well-adjusted members of society.  Wes moved east at some point and had a short-lived marriage.  He then had a relationship with a woman from the states and had a child who has been mainly raised by the mother and her family.  He then married another woman in Vancouver and had a daughter with her.  The lawyer said that this woman and Wes openly communicate and have a good relationship.  I know that this woman says in public that she is embarrassed by Wes and wants nothing to do with him but this confirms what I already know about her - she supports him and the only reason I can imagine that she maintains a relationship with him is that she gets some financial benefit from it.  I am sure that Wes has emotionally manipulated her and that she is a victim of him as well.  I hope that one day she gets the strength to break free from him, if not for her own sake then for her daughters.  Wes is the worst role model a female could have - he has absolutely no respect for females. Next the attorney went on to list Wes' skills; he is an excellent cook, a wonderful companion (had to muffle my laughter at that one), knows a lot about wine and likes to eat at fine restaurants.  She said his best skill is finding female company.  She said he meets female company that want to please him on all levels including giving him money.  I sat there shaking my head.  Unbelievable!

The defence they then offered up was that Wes has an undiagnosed mental condition that compels him to defraud people.  She said there is obviously something wrong with a person who does this over and over and over again.  He admits to betraying people by asking them for money knowing he is not going to pay them back.  He also admits that he gets a certain high by taking people's money and things.  He keeps most of his frauds under $5000.  They requested that there be a psychiatric assessment.  They asked the court to move away from punishment and look at rehabilitation for Wes.  She gave an odd example of a cat that plays with you but can't help but swipe at you because although they can be domesticated they remain predators.  But a person can be changed and become a viable member of society.  She said society would be best served by rehabilitation because segregation hasn't worked.  She said Wes has been very cooperative with the police, was happy to get arrested and didn't like being alone.  They asked for a sentence of 2 years less a day and 3 years of probation.  The judge ordered a recess and said she would come back at 4:00 with her decision.

We went downstairs for coffee while we awaited her decision.  When we went back into the courtroom I felt sick.  I realized that I was not going to be satisfied with either of the options laid out before the judge.  Even if she was to sentence him to the full 3 years that the prosecution asked for it wouldn't amount to him spending very much time in jail.  It hit me that this is going to be a part of my life forever.  Every time he scams someone and they google him they are going to find me.  And  I will help them with as much information as I can.  There is no chance that Wes is not going to be back scamming people when he is released... it's only a matter of when.  

It seemed like a very long time waiting for the judge to come back.  She read through the counts again and then gave her sentencing.  Wes had used seduction and trickery to defraud people.  He had trolled the internet and in a short period of time he had charmed women and secured their trust.  He had devised a pretext to fraudulently secure banking.  His life of crime began when he was 19 and since then he has a deplorable history of fraud, forgery, theft and assault.  He wines and dines his targets and then uses and abuses their trust.  He takes gross advantage of the natural want for love that human beings feel.  He has proven himself to be a predator and chronic recidivist.  His actions are based on his greed and his victims on their generosity and trust.  A self diagnosis by a convicted conman of a mental condition would hold no weight in this court.  She said she was imposing a severe sentence to hold him accountable for his reprehensible behaviour.  He was ordered to pay all the victims restitution except for the thefts and to submit to a DNA order.  He stood up and said in the spirit of fairness he would admit that the bracelet he stole had a value of $2000 and he didn't object to that amount being added to the restitution orders.  He may as well have said that the bracelet was worth 10 million dollars because there is no chance of him ever voluntarily paying any restitution.  There are very few victims ever paid back any money and the only reason that they were was to prep them for a larger scam.  The judge then sentenced him to 36 months in a federal prison.  He had already been in for 2 months and since he is only required to serve 1/3 of the sentence he will be out in approximately 10 months.  If he was ordered to serve his time consecutively he would be in jail for 37 years.  But that is not how the Canadian justice system works.  

I expected to feel happy when Wes was sentenced.  I expected to feel relieved or at least a sense of it being done with.  Instead I feel like it is a ticking time bomb and I am just waiting for him to get out.  He will resume his life of scamming people.  I will resume my life of looking over my shoulder and being nervous and anxious all the time.  I am sure some of his other victims feel the same way but I feel especially uneasy because I am the one who has been so public about everything.  He is unpredictable and he doesn't show any remorse.  I can sleep a bit better while he is in jail but that will all change once he is released.

Here is a portion of my victim impact statement that never got to be heard in court so I thought I would make it part of my own public record.

As a victim of fraud perpetrated by Wesley Devries, I have gone through a whole array of emotions.  I have felt embarrassed and ashamed that I was so foolish in my decisions regarding him and as a result fell victim to his scam.  I have a hard time trusting my own instincts after misjudging Wes so badly.  After the scam, I felt emotionally manipulated.  The ensuing interactions with the accused caused much frustration and left me feeling intimidated, angry, distrustful, threatened, scared, anxious, nervous and uneasy.  I spent many sleepless nights worrying about the unpredictability and capabilities of the man who scammed me.  I felt slightly safer after installing an alarm system and hiding all my valuables at a friend's house.  I kept all my windows and doors closed and locked all summer long.  I sometimes parked my car a few blocks away, worried about retaliation in the form of vandalism.  When I did start to sleep regularly again I slept with my phone beside me, ready to call 911 if he broke in.  From the research I had done on him, I didn't find much information on him having been violent, but the things he had said to me, as well as the time he showed up at my house close to midnight, definitely left me feeling intimidated.  I checked in with friends or family every single night so someone knew I was home safely.  In the mornings I would be nervous to go to my car.  I would be on edge every time I was in a neighbourhood I knew him to frequent.  Even now, when I see someone on the street that resembles him I automatically panic and then have to calm myself down and remember that he is currently incarcerated.  After coming forward about being scammed, I have found it hard to deal with the judgements people have placed on me.  

As a result of Wes’s criminal and fraudulent actions, I have lost $3370 of my money. I feel it is only just and fair that he repays me this money and request that he is ordered to pay me restitution. I would like to see a time frame put on this requirement in that he is required to pay a set monthly amount to me and to have repaid it within a two year time frame. I would also like assurance that if repayment is not made that there will be suitable consequences. His past history has shown a complete disregard for court orders and I think that should be addressed.

In terms of my personal safety and security, I am asking the court to impose a condition that he not be allowed to have contact with me, nor attend where I work or reside. I would also like to be notified of his release and of any bail or parole/probation hearings.

This whole situation has been emotionally draining for me. For three full months it consumed my entire life as I spent countless hours dealing with my bank and the police. It was exhausting and many times I felt completely overwhelmed. Luckily I am a strong person to shoulder that responsibility. As scared and drained as I was, I kept moving forward and stayed focused on not letting this happen to anyone else. I have never had any dealings with criminal matters and at every step was met with frustration - especially dealing with someone who knew how to commit fraud and other crimes and for the most part have them fly under the radar. Having heard from other victims from as far back as 20 years ago I have found out the true impact of the crimes of Wes Devries has caused others. I hope the courts will take the negative impact Wes’s actions have caused for me into account and ensure that I am financially compensated for his criminal actions.

And here are links to the Province's articles;

1 comment:

  1. If you've been victimized by DEVRIES, you can register as a victim with the Correctional Service of Canada. You will be informed of all decisions regarding DEVRIES (transfers, parole, programs, etc). Call the Victim Services Unit, 1-866-806-2275.