Provincial Court Judge Wilf Klinger continued his apparent drive to raise penalties for drug traffickers Tuesday when he rejected a prosecutor's recommended sentence and imposed one three times heavier.
Klinger, already known as the hardest-hitting sentencing judge in Kelowna, rejected submissions from both Crown and defence to give Grant E. McEwen 4.5 months for possessing just under five ounces of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
McEwen had already served essentially two months in jail.
Klinger didn't like the joint submission, and even less so when he saw McEwen's record of past drug possession, trafficking, robbery and weapons offences.
"I consider that he was in possession of a substantial amount of cocaine. I also keep in mind that drug offences are a real problem in this community," he said.
"The courts are asked on a daily basis to deal with those people who are addicted to crack cocaine, cocaine and crystal meth.
"Those individuals appear before the court for a variety of offences including property offences.
"My view is that those who possess (drugs) for sale should be dealt with severely."
He sentenced McEwen, 38, to 15 months in jail.
In most cases, judges accept joint submissions between Crown and defence but it can never be counted on in Klinger's courtroom.
In June 2000, a prosecutor suggested a six-month conditional sentence be served at home for a man convicted of growing marijuana, a sentence consistent with similar crimes.
But Klinger rejected the joint submission and imposed a year in a provincial jail.
He based his reasons on the growing problem of grow operations in the area, dangers to police and firefighters, the rise of grow "ripoffs" and that the crimes are planned and deliberate in the name of greed.
The B.C. Court of Appeal overturned his sentence and substituted it for a one-year conditional sentence.
Earlier this year, Klinger was faced with another joint submission for a conditional sentence on a grow operation he preferred not to follow.
Instead, Klinger went through a long history of provincial court decisions and appeals court revisions and concluded: "If there is a pattern to be discerned it is that trial judges who deal with the flood of grow operations tend to the opinion that conditional sentences for grow operations do not adequately address denunciation and deterrence-but the Court of Appeal consistently disagrees," he said.
Klinger suggested he would have sentenced the man to real jail but had to follow the court of appeal and went along with the joint submission.
In McEwen's case, Klinger also noted that McEwen had plenty of experience in crime through the years and didn't seem to be getting the message.
"This is not a youthful offender who, through inexperience became involved in criminal activity," he said.
"He has chosen a path of crime as a vocation in life."
McEwen also has 12 months probation upon release.
Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005, West Partners Publishing Ltd.