Monday November 24, 2014

Trafficker receives sentence


A 32-year-old Regina man received a two-year conditional sentence in Yorkton court July 14 for trafficking marijuana.

Joseph Belanger pleaded guilty Monday to one count of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking related to a traffic stop on March 13. The Crown dropped a second charge of possession of the proceeds of crime.

When police stopped the vehicle Belanger was driving on Broadway Street in March, RCMP said the distinct smell of marijuana smoke emanated from the vehicle. A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up 2.794 kilograms of the drug.

In court, federal prosecutor Shane Wagner presented a joint submission from the Crown and defence for a lenient sentence. Despite two prior related convictions, Wagner argued that Belanger had proven he is capable of successfully completing a sentence in the community.

Defence attorney Mark Persick added mitigating circumstances that at the time of the offence, the accused had been under pressure because of a recent separation and job loss. He said his client was the primary caregiver for four children and that the defendant was remorseful and confident this would be his last interaction with the justice system.

The defence also provided an explanation for slightly more than $2,000 police seized at the time of arrest as proceeds from the sale of a vehicle. The Crown accepted the explanation and withdrew the proceeds of crime charge and issued a return order the cash.

The vehicle, which was also seized at the time of Belanger’s arrest, will be the subject of a return forfeiture hearing August 19 as there is a third party with a claim the vehicle.

The judge questioned Wagner as to whether the sentence was lawful. The prosecutor said it was because the quantity was under the three kilograms threshold set when new mandatory minimum sentence legislation came into effect last fall.

In addition to the statutory conditions, Belanger must live at an address approved by probation services, is subject to a 24-hour curfew for the first 11 months and an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the remaining 13 months, must refrain from alcohol and non-prescription drugs, participate in addiction treatment programs as prescribed by probation services, maintain employment or education and submit to searches of his residence and/or person at the request of police.

The judge also ordered the mandatory 10-year firearms prohibition.



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