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Cross border trip turns sour for American visitor

An American visitor pled guilty to smuggling and possession of a firearm after being arrested at the Osoyoos border crossing in July.
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December 01, 2014 - 7:29 PM

PENTICTON - An impulsive cross border visit by an American student last July proved costly after he failed to tell Canadian Border Services agents about a weapon he was carrying.

Cole Reid Phillips pled guilty to a Canada Customs Act charge of smuggling firearms and possession of a restricted firearm, in a plea entered by defence lawyer Don Skogstad. Phillips was barred from entry to Canada as a result of the charges.

Phillips attempted to enter Canada last July 21, travelling alone, court heard Monday. Border agents determined he was on his way to Whistler to do some mountain biking,and he declared “no” when asked if he was carrying firearms. However, further questioning revealed Phillips was carrying .45-calibre ammunition, which raised the suspicions of the official, who referred Phillips to secondary inspection.

It was during that inspection that Phillips finally admitted to having a .45 calibre handgun in the glove box of his vehicle. His vehicle was seized and Phillips was arrested until he could make bail. Upon his release, he was escorted to the border, allowed to reclaim his vehicle, and sent back to the United States.

Crown Prosecuter Baylis Ashleigh asked the court to impose a $7,500 fine, noting that Phillips had been given the opportunity to disclose the whereabouts of his handgun prior to revealing it under the scrutiny of the secondary inspection. The crime could carry a sentence of up to $500,000 or five years imprisonment.

Skogstad told the court Phillips was a resident of Phoenix, AZ and was attending university during the time of the offence.

“It’s a different foreign concept for these guys,” Skogstad told the court. “It was an impulsive trip. He thought he would go to Whistler for the day... he’s learned his lesson. The fine should be a message.”

Judge Gregory Koturbash said Phillips, in addition to the penalties he received, would also face future difficulties from an indefinite suspension of his border crossing privileges.

Phillips was fined $7,500, along with a 10 per cent victim surcharge that brought the total amount of fines to $8,250. He was given 30 days to pay.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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