Why this Vernon fentanyl dealer won't be sent to prison - InfoNews

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Why this Vernon fentanyl dealer won't be sent to prison

Vernon Supreme Court
December 07, 2019 - 8:30 AM

A Vernon man who pleaded guilty to possessing fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking won’t spend any time behind bars because the trial judge said he’s proven he's turned his life around.

In a decision released Friday, Justice Dennis K. Hori, wrote that the community will be best served if convicted dealer Wade Joseph Appell, 34, is given the opportunity to continue along the path of rehabilitation while on probation for three years.

“If Appell’s rehabilitation succeeds, as it appears it will, society will be permanently protected from the danger he might otherwise present,” Hori wrote. “It would be a harsh result if Appell were sentenced to a period of incarceration as it may result in his losing the job that he has held for two years, exposing his family to the loss of his income, and the undoing of the significant steps he had taken toward turning his life around.

"These circumstances lead me to the conclusion that the protection of the public is better served by a non-custodial sentence.”

Appell was arrested July 18, 2017, following a dial-a-dope surveillance operation conducted by the RCMP.

“He was not initially the subject of the surveillance, but he was seen meeting with the subjects on three occasions during the surveillance,” Hori wrote. “The police concluded that these meetings were consistent with drug transactions.”

Appell was arrested without incident and in his vehicle, the police found $910 in cash. They also found 2.5 grams of fentanyl packaged in 26 bags, and 4.7 grams of prepackaged cocaine. He also made  14 calls on his cellphone in less than 30 minutes.

Apell, Hori said, faced “exceptional circumstances” before and after the crime committed.

Not only has Hori accepted responsibility for his conduct by pleading guilty to the offence, he expressed remorse at the sentencing hearing.

Hori said he has only one prior conviction for an unrelated offence and his “trafficking activities were motivated by the financial need to pay for his drug and alcohol use which escalated after he lost his previous job.”

He’s not been engaged in criminal activity since he was charged and now participates in counselling for his drug and alcohol use. He’s also been employed by a supportive employer continuously for two years and Hori said he is making a positive impact on his employer’s business.

He has been a contributing member of his community since the offence date by volunteering for the Armstrong Kin Club, is the main income earner for his family which includes a spouse and three children; and he has taken steps to arrange his financial affairs so that they are now manageable.

“I have also been persuaded that Mr. Appell’s efforts to turn his life around have genuinely been successful by the language used by his employer and the representative of the Kin Club in their letters of support,” he said.

The Crown had asked for up to a 36-month sentence.

They tendered evidence about the rise in overdose deaths in B.C. as a result of illicit drug use. The statistics also suggest that a large proportion of those deaths are due to fentanyl.

Based on these statistics, the Crown submits that the penalty for trafficking in fentanyl should be more severe than other controlled substances but not in all cases.

Hori said society, in general, was better served by allowing Appell to keep on his path to rehabilitation. 


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