National Post

Friday, March 05, 1999

Bonnie and Clyde style home invaders get more than four years in jail
Extra on The X-Files: Budding B.C. actress and boyfriend waved guns at family

Neal Hall
The Vancouver Sun

Malcolm Parry, The Vancouver Sun / Melanie Pavicic

A young man and his girlfriend who acted like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, brandishing guns during a home invasion in North Vancouver two years ago, were sentenced yesterday to more than four years in prison.

Melanie Pavicic, a 21-year-old model and one-time extra on The X-Files, and her boyfriend, Vahid Mahanian, 23, who had been a high school honour roll student, were dressed in black and wearing balaclavas when they emerged from the shadows behind the home of Robert and Glennis McArthur about 10:30 p.m. on March 29, 1997.

At the time, Robert McArthur, 42, the vice-president of Polygon Homes, was relaxing in his hot tub while his wife and two children, aged four and six, were in bed. The home invaders were armed with machine guns, he later told police.

Mr. McArthur and his wife were tied up with rope and had their mouths taped after the robbers obtained the PIN numbers for their bank cards and withdrew cash. The robbers also stole a diamond ring and videotape recorder. The total loss was valued at $12,000.

The victims suffered psychological and emotional trauma, the judge noted. "Glennis was clearly terrified for the kids," Mr. McArthur said outside court after the sentencing. "I spoke and talked to them the whole way through. I'm grateful nobody was hurt."

He said he was relatively satisfied with the sentence, although he would like to see a clear definition of home invasion in the Criminal Code.

"I think they were young and stupid," he said of the criminals.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alexander Henderson was told by defence lawyers that Pavicic and Mahanian had met in high school in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam and started dating.

Mahanian, who was born in the United States, had moved with his family to live in Iran until 1980, when the family came to Canada. His family was religious and members of the Baha'i faith, the court was told.

His lawyer told the judge that Mahanian had some gambling debts and was under some pressure to pay them.

Pavicic, who had been a model in Milan for a short time and had been an extra on The X-Files and other TV shows, was also a very good student who was well-liked.

The judge noted, "No explanation was given as to why a young woman succeeding in her pursuit of a career would suddenly turn to a serious act of crime."

Judge Henderson noted there was also no explanation offered on where the home invaders obtained the guns. Two weapons -- a sawed-off shotgun and a semi-automatic .22-calibre pistol -- were recovered by police.

They were arrested in April, 1998, and charged with breaking and entering, using a firearm to commit a robbery and unlawful confinement.

The couple recently pleaded guilty to all three counts.

The judge noted, during his sentencing, that the four-year, three-month sentence was the equivalent of six years because the accused spent slightly more than 10 months in pre-trial custody, which was worth a 21-month credit for time served.

The judge said he was bound by a previous B.C. Court of Appeal decision on home invasion that set the sentencing range at four to nine years, although he added a man was recently sentenced last month to 14 years in B.C. Supreme Court.

"The time may be fast approaching for the appeal court to reconsider the upper range of sentencing for home invasion," the judge added.

There has been a dramatic rise in home invasions in the Vancouver area and a sort of emergency exists to raise the maximum sentence range, Judge Henderson said.

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