Two years after arrest Vernon fentanyl dealer left waiting for sentence | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Two years after arrest Vernon fentanyl dealer left waiting for sentence

October 23, 2019 - 11:30 AM

A Lower Mainland man convicted for dealing fentanyl in Vernon will have to wait a little longer to find out his fate after Justice Jeremy Guild ran out of time before he could deliver his sentence.

"I haven't decided yet on what the sentence will be," Justice Guild told the court. "I don't want to rush and make a hasty decision."

Justice Guild had been scheduled to sentence 23-year-old Sung Hwan Choi on one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking at the Vernon courthouse yesterday, Oct. 22.

However, with only about 20 minutes of court time left Justice Guild adjourned the sentencing until an as yet unknown date.

The delay in the sentencing comes almost two years after Choi was originally arrested in Vernon for being part of a dial-a-dope drug-dealing scheme.

Defence lawyer Julian van der Walle argued that Choi should receive no prison time and instead spend three on probation with one year under house arrest.

Crown counsel Norm Yates argued for 22 to 24 months of jail time.

Choi was arrested following a two-month police investigation into a dial-a-dope drug-dealing ring in Vernon. Dawn Bobbie Larson was also arrested with Choi and is the co-accused in the case. She is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Choi was arrested and charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking but had two of the charges acquitted during his trial after a judge ruled some of his Charter rights were violated during his arrest.

The court heard how Choi had arrived in Vernon just two weeks prior to his arrest after a friend in Surrey approached him and asked him to sell drugs in Vernon. van der Walle told the court the unnamed friend had since been murdered.

The defence lawyer told the court that Choi had only become involved in drug dealing two weeks before his arrest and was not a drug addict fueling an addiction by dealing.

van der Walle said Choi had asked an RCMP officer following his arrest whether fentanyl would get him into more trouble. The lawyer said the comment showed Choi's lack of knowledge about the drug trade and what he was doing.

The court heard how Choi had no previous criminal record, was only 21 years old at the time of his arrest and had turned his life around. He was now working full time and had spent 60 hours volunteering at a local soup kitchen in the last year.

van der Walle argued Choi's situation was an "exceptional" and "rare case."

Justice Guild disagreed.

"That's not rare," he said. "Lots of people volunteer."

After a short break, Justice Guild re-entered the courtroom and told the court he needed more time before deciding on the sentence.

Sitting in the courtroom Choi could be heard asking his lawyer whether it was OK if he went back to Surrey.

Choi isn't the first fentanyl dealer to have their sentencing delayed by Justice Guild. In May the judge delayed the sentencing of a 24-year-old Vernon man by one week because during the proceeding he ran out of time.

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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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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