B.C. judge calls for harsher sentences for fentanyl dealers

Top court says longer sentences would reflect the current “public health crisis"

A judge at B.C.’s top court is calling for stronger sentences for those who sell fentanyl.

In a ruling posted online Friday, the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal to increase the six-month sentence of a 59-year-old man who was caught with drugs, including 2.6 grams of the deadly opioid.

The Crown had argued that the sentence wasn’t enough, given the “inherent danger” of accidental overdose linked to fentanyl.

READ: Fentanyl: A mother’s pain, a mother’s message

The effort was denied, since fentanyl-related deaths were not as prevalent at the time of the offence. But the three judges agreed the court should identify a higher sentencing range because of the current “public health crisis associated with illicit fentanyl consumption.”

The judge who dissented in the judgment, Justice Mary Newbury, called for a sentence of 18 to 36 months or possibly higher.

Frank Stanley Smith, a first-time offender, tried to sell drugs to an undercover police officer in 2015 on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The current sentencing range for first-time offenders is six to 12 months – the same as heroin.

The fentanyl crisis has led to a sharp increase in overdoses in B.C. There were 922 overdose deaths in the province last year, compared to 510 in 2015. An additional 116 people died in January.

READ: 2016 had almost double the number of overdose deaths as 2015

Ottawa announced an additional $10 million for B.C.’s fight last month, along with $65 million nationwide over the next five years to prevent overdoses. Exactly how that funding is going to be doled out has yet to be determined, but the B.C. government says it will help support the work of its Joint Task Force on Overdose Response.

READ: Ottawa gives $10 million for B.C. opioid crisis

B.C.’s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, has said she believes fentanyl is to blame for most the increase in overdose deaths, since the number of deaths with no fentanyl detected has remained stable since 2011.

 

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

Fort restores a musical Christmas tradition this weekend

The Old-Fashioned Musical Christmas is back at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.

Giving is the reason for the season for a young Langley organizer

A homeless giving campaign started three years ago in Vancouver has spread to Langley.

WHAT’S IN STORE: Langley realtors take Monopoly play to new level

A local real estate agent has partnered with a few others to host a unique fundraiser for refugees.

VIDEO: Beach rocker brings sound back home to Langley

WIN TICKETS: Brookswood native Daniel Wesley returns.

Crash closes 32 Avenue in Aldergrove

Delivery van and small car collide just east of 272 Street

Langley uke players put fun twist on Christmas favourites

A Christmas show Saturday is about spreading holiday spirit and raising travel money.

Aldergrove Legion hosts Christmas breakfast

Aldergrove enjoys Light Up Aldergrove Parade and Legion’s annual Christmas breakfast

Quarter of students were away sick at Maple Ridge elementary school

Students and teachers at Maple Ridge school away with colds, flu.

Suspect in Revelstoke standoff killed himself: RCMP

Mohammadali Darabi, suspect in the Calgary homicide of his roommate, was stopped in Revelstoke

Clinton visits Vancouver, applauds Trudeau, celebrates Democrats’ win in Alabama

Clinton told crowd she cheered when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet.

VIDEO: Salt Spring Islanders ferry piano to their floating home

Everyone enjoys a little music on the water, but not everyone has a piano on their boat

Frustrated federal workers rally against Phoenix payroll system at B.C. MP’s office

Some employees out tens of thousands of dollars with ‘no end in sight’

Bomb detonated in Kamloops neighbourhood

Kamloops RCMP are investigating after an improvised explosive device was detonated Wednesday morning

No More Shootouts: Strong defence will be Canada’s backbone at world juniors

Head coach doesn’t want a situation where a hot goalie or a lucky bounce can determine a team’s fate

Most Read