A woman who facilitated a violent home invasion in South Surrey last year was sentenced Wednesday (May 6) to three years in prison for her role.
Prior to learning her punishment, Dixie Lee White told Surrey Provincial Court Judge James Sutherland that she blamed her actions on a drug-use relapse.
“Obviously, this isn’t something I would do clean and sober, so I would like an opportunity to get my life back together,” White told the court. “I don’t think the best place to recover is in jail.”
White, 29, was one of three people arrested following the June 22 early-morning beating and robbery of a resident in the 15200-block of 36 Avenue. One of the victim’s dogs was also injured in the incident.
The court heard that White had attended a home in the area after responding to an online request for an escort and arranging by text message to meet the resident.
Shortly after arriving by taxi, White asked to use the 36-year-old resident’s washroom and headed upstairs.
The resident was following White when he heard his front door open, turned back and saw two men enter his home. The pair grabbed him, punched him, dragged him upstairs and forced him to lie face-down in a walk-in closet. They then bound his wrists and ankles, and threatened to kill him if he looked at them, prosecutor Angela Lee told the court.
“The complainant was ordered not to move or to look at them, or he would be dead,” Lee said, citing details from an agreed statement of facts.
After ransacking the victim’s home, White and the two men fled in a taxi – but not before the driver was hit and choked into submission, Lee said. A security guard who had noticed something amiss had alerted the driver, but he “agreed to drive the group out of fear,” Lee said.
All three perpetrators fled the cab in the area of King George Boulevard and Colebrook Road, and a short time later, a police dog found White hiding behind a storage container about 100 metres away.
(While some stolen items were found in the taxi and others nearby, some – including the victim’s grandfather’s Rolex – were never recovered, Lee noted.)
A man believed to be one of the two assailants with White was found in a nearby ditch.
Kyle Clayton Rooyakkers remains in custody charged with multiple offences, including robbery, unlawful confinement and assault with a weapon. He is due back in court on May 28.
In October, a second man was arrested and faces charges in connection with the home invasion. Shaun Anthony Tottenham also remains in custody, with a preliminary inquiry scheduled to get underway July 16.
In asking for a three-year sentence for White – who had been released on bail but has been in custody since October for breaching conditions – Lee cited mitigating factors including a four-year period leading up to the crime during which White made significant strides in her addictions recovery. As well, White entered guilty pleas – including to robbery and unlawful confinement – early in the process.
Aggravating factors include the nature of the crime, and that White “was the reason why the two co-accused were able to gain access to this house.”
White’s lawyer, Jodi Michaels, described a history of drug abuse that began when her client was 14, and included “essentially everything under the sun.”
In the years prior to the South Surrey crime, however, White helped others who were dealing with addiction – and she wants to return to that path, Michaels said.
“There are many women who are currently clean and sober due to the assistance of Miss White,” she said.
Michaels noted White’s relapse happened after she was assigned work as an addictions counsellor in Vancouver’s Dowtown Eastside, through Atira’s Women’s Resource Society. The temptation was just too prevalent, her lawyer said.
“She slid back into her old ways,” Michaels told the court. “She’s very disappointed in herself. This was a change in behaviour for her, this offence.”
Michaels acknowledged her client’s actions “led to a significant assault… something (the victim) will have to deal with the consequences of for the rest of his life.
“That’s why a period of serious incarceration is necessary.”
While Michaels said a sentence of two to three years would be appropriate – noting the typical range for such offences is six to 13 years – she described Lee’s suggestion of three years as “quite reasonable.”
Sutherland agreed. Citing letters of support, Sutherland told White it is “everybody’s serious hope” that she can once again overcome the obstacles that led her back to the criminal-justice system.
“You’ve done really good things for people, in terms of your rehabilitation. You made a difference in people’s lives,” Sutherland said.
“Obviously, you’re capable of doing it.”
White’s sentence includes two three-year terms, plus two terms of 60 days and one of 30 days related to the breach, all to be served concurrently. Time in custody to date will count at time-and-a-half, for a total of 354 days served, he said.
White must also provide a DNA sample and is prohibited from owning weapons for 10 years.
Outside court, Michaels said she was satisfied with the outcome.
“All things considered, it was the right sentence,” she said.