Vernon drug smuggler loses last chance at appeal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon drug smuggler loses last chance at appeal

Ronald Charles Learning
Image Credit: Facebook
October 08, 2019 - 5:30 PM

VERNON - A Vernon man currently serving jail time for attempting to import $180,000 of heroin from Thailand, as well over a million dollars worth of cocaine, has lost an appeal to have his sentence reduced.

Ronald Charles Learning lost his case at the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver, Sept. 19, although he did have a $4,400 victim surcharge fine overturned by the judges who deemed the surcharge unconstitutional.

Learning, who was already serving nine years in prison when he was sentenced in Vernon to six more years jail time for attempting to import heroin, had argued the two sentences added together was too harsh a punishment. 

Court documents state Learning was arrested in January 2015 after the Canadian Border Services intercepted a package being sent to him from Thailand containing 363.6 grams of heroin. Police then searched the basement where Learning lived and found four handguns, drugs and a stolen birth certificate and passport.

Two of the handguns discovered were stolen, while the other two had their serial numbers removed. Three of the guns were loaded and classed as restricted weapons.

Learning was charged with 22 counts relating to possession of the firearms, drugs and identity documents and convicted on 21 of the charges and sentenced to six years jail time in July 2017.

Documents say Learning was in the "mid to high-level of whatever drug trade operation he was part of."

At the time of the sentencing, Learning was serving a nine-year sentence in Saskatchewan for importing cocaine with a value of between $1.2 and $2.3 million.

In 2017, the B.C. judge ordered the sentence to run consecutively to the time Learning was serving in Saskatchewan.

Learning appealed the six-year sentence saying the sentence was disproportionate and the judge should have reduced the B.C. sentence and taken into consideration the length of time he was already serving in Saskatchewan.

According to the decision, Learning argues adding the two sentences together was too harsh a penalty and went against certain legal principles of sentencing.

However, Justices David Frankel, Gregory Fitch and John Hunter disagreed stating while the sentence was high, it still fits within the law and the principles of sentencing criminals with multiple convictions.

Citing a previous case that deemed it unconstitutional, Learning's $4,400 victim surcharge or 52 days imprisonment for failing to pay was quashed by the judges.

Learning had also appealed his Saskatchewan conviction but lost earlier this year.

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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