Lawyer argues for house arrest for convicted North Okanagan fentanyl dealer - InfoNews

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Lawyer argues for house arrest for convicted North Okanagan fentanyl dealer

August 19, 2019 - 6:00 PM

VERNON - A 34-year-old convicted fentanyl dealer will have to wait another nine days to learn whether he will go to prison or spend his sentence under house arrest.

North Okanagan resident Wade Joseph Appell was arrested in July of 2017 and found to be in possession of 2.5-grams of fentanyl. He was charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and later plead guilty to the charges.

Appell stood in a Vernon courtroom today, Aug. 19, and told Justice Dennis Hori he was "very sorry for the things I have done."

Crown lawyer Michelle Reinhart told the court while Appell had said in an earlier court appearance he thought he was selling heroin and was not aware he was selling fentanyl "given the public knowledge" individuals selling opioids "have to be aware" fentanyl may be contained in the drugs they are selling.

Reinhart argued Appell should face a sentence of 20 to 24 months behind bars, followed by a 10-year firearms ban and give a sample to a national DNA bank.

Reinhart said Appell's pattern of behaviour indicated he was involved in a dial-a-dope scheme but Justice Hori said if he was going to take into consideration other drug transactions there needed to be proof of these transactions which there was not.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Avis asked for an 18-month sentence of house arrest, followed by 18-months of probation and 120 hours of community work service. Appell would be allowed to go to work each day during his house arrest.

The defence lawyer pointed out how Appell had remained in full-time employment for two years straight, had not breached any conditions of bail and was supporting his partner and their three children.

"He has genuinely turned his life around," Avis said. "He is remorseful."

Society is best protected when the offender is rehabilitated Avis said, arguing sending Appell to prison would not be for anyone's good.

The court heard how Appell had started using opioids after using he was fired from his job because of his alcohol and cocaine abuse. His drug dealing had supported this habit.

However, the Crown argued Appell was not "purely motivated" by supporting his drug addiction and there was financial gain and a "substitute for employment" in his drug trafficking activity.

Avis told the court Appell had started full-time work shortly after he was arrested and he was enrolled in a bi-weekly substance addiction program. He was also taking part in family counselling sessions and volunteering some of his time to a local not-for-profit group.

"It had an impact on not only my community but my family, so I'm trying ... (to) do everything better and continue on helping instead of hurting," Appell said.

Justice Hori adjourned the court and said he would give his sentence Aug. 29.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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