A 27-year-old’s three-week bank-robbery spree came to an abrupt end in early 2016 in the back of a Burnaby cab with a police dog attached to his arm.
Eranga De Silva had just gotten into a taxi after robbing his seventh bank in less than a month – this one a TD Canada Trust on Kingsway.
Unbeknownst to him, he had been tailed by two unmarked Vancouver police SUVs, each equipped with a trained police service dog.
When the taxi stopped at an intersection, one of the police vehicles pulled up close to the driver-side doors to block them, while the second pulled up on the other side and quickly dispatched police service dog Bosco into the back seat to subdue De Silva.
“In keeping with his extensive training, Bosco bit Mr. De Silva only once and held that bite until commanded to stop,” state court documents.
The dog then “levered” De Silva out of the taxi, according to the documents, and officers arrested him about eight feet from the taxi.
De Silva’s lawyers argued the charges against him should be stayed because police had violated his Charter rights during the arrest.
It turned out De Silva had been unarmed, and Bosco’s bite required stitches to fix.
But B.C. Supreme Court Justice George Macintosh ruled the officers – and Bosco, who has since retired from the VPD – had acted reasonably under the circumstances.
“The bite Bosco inflicted likely caused pain to Mr. De Silva. That was its purpose. The pain was to distract Mr. De Silva from focusing on any weapon he may have had, and using it,” Macintosh stated in a January ruling.
“Mr. De Silva was arrested while it was reasonably believed by the officers that he was armed, shortly after he had committed his seventh bank robbery in less than three weeks. He does not have a valid complaint on these facts.”
De Silva will be sentenced on Aug. 10 after being found guilty on seven counts of bank robbery and one count of attempted bank robbery for a spree in Vancouver and Burnaby that lasted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 18 in 2016.
On each occasion De Silva showed the teller a note saying he had a gun or was armed.
During one robbery, his note stated he was armed with a grenade as well as a gun.