Police were on the scene at an Abbotsford Subway restaurant on Jan. 11, 2020 after an armed robbery. Two men were arrested, and they were later charged with several other robberies in the Lower Mainland. (Kevin MacDonald file photo)

Police were on the scene at an Abbotsford Subway restaurant on Jan. 11, 2020 after an armed robbery. Two men were arrested, and they were later charged with several other robberies in the Lower Mainland. (Kevin MacDonald file photo)

Province wants to keep Abbotsford truck it says was used in armed robberies

Vehicle owner was dating one of two men now facing more than 35 charges for 16 incidents

An Abbotsford woman who briefly dated a man later arrested as a suspect in 10 Lower Mainland armed robberies is fighting to keep the truck that the province’s civil forfeiture office wants to permanently seize.

The province alleges in a notice of civil claim, filed recently in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, that the 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 was used in robberies in December 2019 and January 2020.

The lawsuit states that Clint Billy, 33, and another man – previously identified by The Abbotsford News as Justin Randy Walsh, 22 – are suspects in a total of 16 robberies at banks, liquor stores, gas stations and restaurants, and that Billy ended up with $18,000.

Billy is a suspect in 10 of the incidents, the documents state.

The lawsuit indicates that officers conducted surveillance on the pair on Jan. 3 and 11, 2020. At the time, Billy was dating a woman who owned a Dodge Ram 1500.

While under surveillance, the trio were seen several times in the woman’s truck, the lawsuit states.

The documents indicate that on Jan. 11, police saw the two men enter a Subway restaurant on McCallum Road in Abbotsford. They were wearing disguises and pulled out guns – later discovered to be fake – and demanded cash from the till and a metal lock box, the lawsuit says.

The pair then ran away, but Billy was located by a police dog about two blocks away from the Subway. Walsh was also arrested.

RELATED: Two men arrested in connection with 16 Lower Mainland armed robberies

RELATED: Two men face 35 charges for Lower Mainland armed-robbery spree

The lawsuit states that the Dodge Ram was used in the robberies, and it was seized by RCMP on Jan. 12, 2020.

The province initiated forfeiture proceedings against the vehicle, saying it was “an instrument of unlawful activity” and that if the vehicle or proceeds from it were released to the defendants, they would “likely be used for unlawful activity.”

The documents claim that the woman “knew or ought to have known” that Billy was using the truck for unlawful activity.

But in her response to the notice of civil claim, the woman said she dated Billy for only six weeks, the vehicle was not used in any robberies, and she had no idea what Billy was doing when she was not with him.

The single mother said the truck had been purchased by her mom and given to her as an inheritance after the death of her godfather. It had served as her “reliable family vehicle” for 10 years, she wrote.

“I did not use my vehicle for any type of criminal activity … I am not a criminal nor do I plan on becoming one,” she said.

“Clint Billy is not in my life and never will be again.”

B.C.’s civil forfeiture office can initiate civil court proceedings to take away property such as vehicles, cash and homes that are believed to have been used in unlawful activity or purchased from the proceeds of such activity.

Billy and Walsh face a total of more than 35 charges, which are still making their way through the courts, including robbery, using an imitation firearm and disguising their faces with the intent of committing an offence.

The robberies occurred in Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and Surrey.

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