Undercover officer thought he was about to die

An undercover RCMP officer thought he was going to "die in the dirt in the middle of nowhere" the day a Kamloops teen stuck a sawed-off shotgun in his face and demanded money, a judge heard Thursday.

Garret Nicholas Getz, 18, pleaded guilty to robbery with a prohibited weapon. He will serve four years in jail.

The teenager was arrested Sept. 3, 2009, after he and three others showed up not to complete a drug deal as the undercover officer expected, but to rob the man of $7,000 they believed he carried.

Prosecutor Sheri Mark told the court Kamloops RCMP were in the final stages of a three-month undercover drug operation targeting street level drug traffickers.

Const. Ryan Wilton had arranged to meet Alister Wright - Getz's foster brother -to supposedly buy $7,000 of cocaine. They agreed to meet at a rural location on the outskirts of Kamloops. At the meeting spot, Wilton found a car with Getz, Wright, a teen and Kristy Poulsen, 18, behind the wheel.

Mark said the officer approached and as he did so, Getz jumped out and pointed a loaded sawed-off shotgun at his head at point-blank range and told him to hand over the money or he'd be shot. He also forced him to the ground.

"(Const. Wilton) thought he was going to die that day, lying face down in a gravel lot in the middle of nowhere," said Mark. "This officer, as all officers do, put his life on the line. What occurred (that day) was every police officer's nightmare."

Within seconds, Wilton's cover team arrived on the scene - they had been watching covertly from a nearby location - bringing the tense robbery attempt to an end. Getz tried to flee, but Wilton wrestled him to the ground, the court was told.

All four of the teens were arrested. Getz and Wright have been in custody since, while Poulsen and the teen were released on bail.

Using a firearm in the commission of an offence like robbery carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail. Both the Crown and defence agreed the minimum prison term is the appropriate penalty. Getz was given credit for the time he has already served in jail since his arrest, meaning he will serve four new years.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Powers told Getz events that day could have gone much worse andboth he and the officer are lucky to be alive. He warned the man future involvement in the drug trade could well see him dead, or spending a great deal more time in prison.

"Maybe he's seen too many movies," the judge said.

Getz was also banned from owning or possessing firearms for life. The court was told the 12-gauge shotgun used in the crime had been stolen from a Kamloops homeowner a month before.

Charges remain outstanding against Poulsen, Wright and the teen. All face the prospect of five years in prison as well.

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