PENTICTON - A man's troubled past and his desire to rehabilitate himself convinced a judge to give a convicted drug dealer a break in Penticton Supreme Court today, September 2.
Judge Gordon Weatherill handed down a sentence of three years, less time served, to Grant McEwen, who was convicted Feb. 4, 2015 of unlawfully possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
McEwen has been in custody since his June 22, 2014 arrest when he was apprehended for his role in a dial-a-dope operation. At the time, he had only recently been released after serving time for a previous drug related conviction.
Police found 24 baggies containing 20.63 grams of methamphetamine on McEwen at the time of his arrest.
Crown Prosecutor Ashleigh Baylis asked for a sentence of five years less credit for time served. She described 49-year-old McEwen's past record, noting he has 55 convictions since age 18, eight of which were for trafficking.
A report noted McEwen didn’t identify with his aboriginal descent while growing up, Baylis noted, adding McEwen served lengthy jail sentences in the past, only to reoffend again.
She said McEwen’s lengthy history of substance abuse and lack of a previous attempt to change his ways as indicators of a high likelihood to reoffend.
Defence lawyer Ryu Okayama told court a three-year sentence was more appropriate, given McEwen’s recent attempts to rehabilitate and recognize his past behaviour while in prison. He also noted McEwen’s troubled upbringing. McEwen was the victim of a sexual assault at the hands of a prison guard while in prison, Okayama said, noting it had a big influence on his life. He said while in prison for his latest crime, McEwen successfully completed a number of workbooks and successfully applied to Vision Quest, a drug rehabilitation program for offenders.
In handing down his decision, Judge Weatherill noted McEwen came from a broken family, raised by a permissive mother who moved frequently. McEwen discovered his mother trying to commit suicide when he was eight years old and at age 20 was sexually assaulted while in prison. He became addicted to drugs at an early age and served time for drug, robbery and breach offences.
Weatherill also noted McEwen’s recent desire to accept responsibility and address the underlying factors of his behaviour. He was also making an effort to connect with his aboriginal roots. The judge said he believed McEwen sincerely wished to change his ways.
“Sentences shouldn’t discourage attempts at rehabilitation,” he said, adding he had no choice but to sentence McEwen to some jail time.
An emotional McEwen addressed Weatherill, stating he was “humbled to stand here, before you.” He said he was taking steps in his life to “deal with things.”
McEwen was sentenced to three years less time served, leaving 1.2 years left remaining on his sentence. He also faces a lifetime firearms prohibition and forfeiture of everything seized at the time of his arrest.
“Your past ways of life have not worked for you. I accept the time has come for you to change,” Judge Weatherill said.
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