May 13, 2016 - 10:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - A Merritt man who found a shotgun hidden under a pile of lumber and sold it for $80 within hours faces at least three years in prison.
Rodney Boesel has pleaded guilty to trafficking a weapon in connection to his find on May 1, 2014.
Boesel's B.C. Supreme Court hearing in Kamloops based on a constitutional argument will be the first in the province to challenge the mandatory three-year minimum sentence for sale of illegal firearms.
Crown lawyer Neil Flanagan said Boesel was doing renovations at an apartment building where he lived when he discovered a shotgun wrapped in plastic in a weedy lumber pile beside a shed.
Boesel immediately called his drug dealer, who he had only recently met, and offered to sell the gun.
"It was a very poor-timing opportunity to make a dollar," Boesel told his sentencing hearing.
RCMP had arrested the drug dealer the day before and an officer answered his cellphone. Boesel arranged to sell the gun for $80 and about $20 worth of crack cocaine.
An undercover Mountie made the deal the same morning and police immediately arrested Boesel.
Under laws brought in by the former Conservative government in 2008, weapons trafficking carries a three-year minimum sentence.
That law has been found to be unconstitutional in other provinces, including Ontario, but Flanagan said it still stands in B.C.
He said the Crown is duty-bound to ask for three years behind bars.
But defence lawyer Genevieve Eliany is asking B.C. Supreme Court Justice Hope Hyslop to declare the minimum sentence contrary to the charter.
Boesel is a drug addict on a methadone program and has a criminal record for several break-and-enter thefts in 2008.
He has no record for violence.
After the sale, Boesel told police: "It must seem stupid, but I really didn't think about it.'"
"You didn't once think this drug dealer was going duck hunting in Saskatchewan, did you?" Flanagan asked during cross-examination. "This gun would be used in the drug business."
Federal Crown lawyer Lesley Ruzicka is arguing the court should decline to rule that the three-year minimum breaches the charter.
News from © The Canadian Press , 2016