Shaw’s wireless subsidiary Freedom Mobile is suing for $10 million.
Editor’s note (November 4, 2021): Following publication of this story, Lorne Sabsay, the lawyer representing Christopher Mornan, wrote the following to the downUP:
“Mr. Mornan’s charges were withdrawn months before Shaw started its lawsuit and Shaw misled the Court in incorrectly asserting that he was criminally accused when they brought an application, without notice, to freeze his assets. Based on evidence already present in this matter, the Superior Court of Justice has already unfrozen many of Mr. Mornan’s assets. Further, there was never any evidence that put Mr. Mornan at the scene of any robbery.”
The scene: Just after 8 p.m. on March 13, 2019, a cargo truck loaded with about $8-million worth of devices including cell phones and tablets was scheduled to be delivered from a Brampton warehouse to a Freedom Mobile store in the city. It would not make it.
Instead, four accused thieves stopped the truck from leaving the loading warehouse, kidnapped the driver at gunpoint, drove the FedEx truck to another location where the merchandise was unloaded into another truck and taken to a warehouse owned by one of the accused. The devices were destined to be resold overseas.
Now: That’s according to a lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court filed by Freedom’s parent company Shaw Communications, which is suing the accused for $10 million in damages for the theft. The case, which held a hearing on Thursday, is still ongoing.
The lawsuit notes that some of the merchandise was located with the accused, but the majority is still missing. The statement of claim says 94 cell phones out of the $8-million worth of merchandise were recovered.
The accused, who are all from Brampton and three of which were in custody since the filing of the suit, weren’t caught until August 2019, when wire taps and search warrants caught the alleged thieves committing a similar robbery.
What Shaw wants: Beside $10 million plus tax, the Calgary-based company wants the accused’s assets frozen and taxes on the merchandise.
What they said: “The fact is that as a result of the Accused’s wrongful actions, it has suffered damages, including the loss of the stolen merchandise, transportation and shipping costs, brokerage fees and the cost of replacing the merchandise,” Shaw said in its statement of claim, originally filed in October.
“It has suffered further damages, including but not limited to out-of-pocket expenses, damage to its reputation and such further and other damages,” the suit continues.
Background: Original media reports said there were six accused in the robbery, but the lawsuit only names four: Christopher Mornan, Ian Mitchell, Kenrick Young and Garnett Ricks. Those reports also say that the cellphones, according to police detectives, have security features that can disable the phone remotely from the manufacturer if they’re stolen, but that detail is not in the lawsuit.
Additional context: In June 2017, telecom regulator the CRTC ruled that, to encourage subscribers to switch providers, wireless carriers like Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Shaw must sell their cellphones unlocked. The carriers warned in submissions to the regulator that the decision would increase device theft because the devices wouldn’t be tied to a single carrier, who at the time required a fee — normally $50 — to unlock the phone.
Rogers attributed the decision directly to a number of thefts of devices en route to subscribers.
Other thefts: Between January and June of 2019, police said there was an estimated 32 robberies, most of which targeted Freedom Mobile stores in Peel, Toronto, York, and Halton regions, involving at least 22 suspects.
CBC reported last year that cellphone theft is becoming more frequent, citing Calgary police.
See video of one of the robberies: