Merritt man wants to turn a new leaf after his release from prison | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops News

Merritt man wants to turn a new leaf after his release from prison

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KAMLOOPS - A Merritt man who says he's struggled with drugs all of his life will likely be released from prison in less than a month, and he says this is a turning point for him.

Dustin Thomas Gray, 29, pleaded guilty to driving while prohibited and breaching probation conditions in connection to offences last September.

This isn't the first time he's run into trouble with the law. Gray has 34 convictions on his record, Crown prosecutor Laura Drake told the court, many of which are for breaching court orders.

Defence lawyer Ken Tessovitch says Gray's criminal behaviour stems from a mix of being in the wrong place and a history of substance abuse.

"Merritt's not a good pace for him. Period," Tessovitch said. "His record is indicative of substance abuse."

Tessovitch says Gray has applied for a spot at three treatment centres —  all located outside of Merritt — to get help for his substance abuse once he is released.

"He understands the next time he overdoses, he could very well be dead," Tessovitch said, adding Gray has overdosed twice.

"We hope he gets the message and sees it through. If not, he could... die."

Given the chance to speak to the court, Gray told Kamloops Provincial Court judge Stephen Harrison this is the first time he will be going to treatment to better himself, rather than pleasing others.

"I know what's going to be the alternative," Gray said. "I'm going to die."

Harrison said he appreciated the fact Gray understood the gravity of his drug addiction.

"Your worst fear will not be going back to jail for a few months," Harrison said. "It will be not waking up."

Gray has spent just shy of three months in prison for breaching his conditions. Harrison sentenced him to 29 days in prison, along with one year of probation.

"We will hope that you'll find some relief," Harrison told him.

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