UPDATED: Alleged Kootenay bank robber tries to escape

A man accused in a series of armed robberies is back in custody after briefly escaping this morning at the Nelson courthouse.

A man accused in a series of armed robberies is back in custody after briefly escaping this morning at the Nelson courthouse.

Andrew Stevenson, 34, was due to elect trial on 21 charges.

According to the Ministry of Justice, around 9 a.m. a deputy sheriff was escorting Stevenson into the courthouse through a sheriff-access only door when he threw off his crutches and fled.

Stevenson was using the crutches ostensibly as the result of injuries he suffered during his arrest on April 25. Consequently, he wasn’t wearing leg irons.

The deputy sheriff chased Stevenson and caught him within two blocks of the courthouse. He was then transferred to the Nelson Police Department and taken back to the city lock-up. He’s expected to face a new charge of escaping custody.

The Ministry of Justice said typically when deputy sheriffs escort prisoners in custody from the Nelson police jail to the courthouse, they are handcuffed and placed in leg irons subject to medical conditions or other factors.

“BC Sheriff Services will be reviewing this incident and the current practices and policies surrounding the transportation of prisoners in Nelson,” the ministry said.

Stevenson was denied bail last week. His case was put over to October 7, when he will appear in court by video.

Stevenson is accused of hold-ups at the Kootenay Currency Exchange in which a shot was fired, Nelson and District Credit Union, Kootenay Savings in Castlegar, and Johnny’s Grocery in Robson, plus two break-ins at Castlegar pharmacies in March and April.

Among other counts, he is accused of possession of a restricted weapon, pointing a firearm, possession of stolen property over $5,000, and fleeing police.

His co-accused, Krista Kalmikoff, has been released on bail. Her lawyer has indicated she intends to plead not guilty and elect trial by judge and jury. She also returns to court October 7.

Stevenson and Kalmikoff were both arrested the day of the Nelson credit union robbery. They have not been charged in robberies at the Kootenay Savings in Salmo and Shoppers Simply Pharmacy in Castlegar.

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