Penticton court.

Penticton court.

Gang connection claimed in violent Penticton home invasion

Man convicted in violent, drug-fuelled home invasion in Penticton says he was under orders from Independent Soldiers.

A man already serving a sentence for a Kelowna bank robbery received an extra seven years in jail for a violent home invasion in Penticton, which he claims was done under the direction of the Independent Soldiers gang.

Jon Russell Lowe, 46, pleaded guilty to unlawful confinement, robbery and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose relating to the drug-fuelled robbery of a Penticton home on Nov. 30, 2013. Lowe, who immigrated to Canada from England in the early ‘90s, has been sentencedto  a total of 21 years in jail since 1996, this being his 14th robbery conviction.

Judge Greg Koturbash called Lowe a “career criminal who had intentionally embarked upon a violent criminal path of life and appears to have treated jail and the criminal justice system as a mere occupational hazard.”

Lowe planned the home invasion of the Calgary Avenue residence with Amanda Sach, who was convicted of robbery, assault with a weapon and unlawful confinement and sentenced to 30 months in jail in January 2014.

Sach was described as the ringleader of the robbery during her sentencing and had a warrant issued for her arrest after she failed to return to the Fraser Valley Institution for Women after a temporary authorized absence in November 2014.

A spokesperson for the institution said she is currently in federal custody once again.

Sach and Lowe met and consumed drugs together in the days leading up to the robbery. He told Sach he had just finished a sentence for another robbery and had connections to organized crime. Sach was familiar with one of the victims of the home invasion and suggested the robbery of the residence to Lowe.

The male and female victim were inside the garage of their residence when Sach and Lowe entered high on methamphetamine with masks covering their face demanding the victims “get down on the ground.”

The pair demanded to know the location of money and guns in the house and Sach assaulted the victims with an axe handle and Lowe tied them up with zap-straps.

Clothing, various rings and jewelry, electronics and a cash box with $600 worth of change were stolen from the residence during the hour-long robbery. Both victims were eventually able to escape to seek help.

The female victim went into the residence and awoke her son, who was sleeping through the incident, and called the police, while the male victim was able to get help from a neighbour.

Lowe admitted he was carrying a baseball bat during the robbery, but the Crown accepted his denial of assaulting the victims, telling police that Sach “had an axe to grind with these people.”

Three other men who were said to be well known to police then entered the residence, but only Anthony Werden was arrested in connection with the robbery and his role was determined to be minor and independent.  Werden received one day in jail and one year probation

Lowe told police he had committed the home invasion under the direction of the Independent Soldiers, a well-known organized crime gang.

“I follow orders, do what I’m told,” Lowe told police.

Defence counsel Gavin Jones attempted to downplay the gang connection that Lowe admitted during a police interview during a hearing in May, but after private discussion with his client it was determined that Lowe was not disputing the claim.

“Home invasions at the direction of notorious criminal organizations can have a chilling effect on a community,” said Judge Koturbash.

“Although Penticton has not been immune to the infiltration of organized crime, it is much less prevalent than it is in larger centres, and the mere thought of their presence in our community committing very serious crimes instills fear in our citizens.”

Lowe, who also received a lifetime firearms ban, appeared via video from the Pacific Institution Regional Treatment Centre in Abbotsford staying silent and showing no emotion throughout two sentencing hearings at the Penticton Court House.