By Delon Shurtz on May 15, 2021.
The Crown and defence in a drug smuggling case are miles apart when it comes to sentencing a Calgary man who was found guilty in March following a week-long trial in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench.
Calgary lawyer Sean Fagan is seeking a seven-year prison term for his client, Bradley Michael Gaudrault, while Crown prosecutors Kent Brown and Domenic Puglia have recommended a sentence of 12-15 years.
Brown pointed out Thursday during a sentencing hearing in Calgary that the Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled that a sentence of 10-12 years is appropriate for importation cases where a guilty plea has been offered. Defence counsel, Brown suggested, is ignoring the appeal court’s ruling, and pointed out not only did Gaudrault choose to stand trial rather than plead guilty, there are no mitigating factors to warrant a sentence in the range defence has recommended.
Brown reminded the judge that Gaudrault was caught with 31 kilograms of cocaine, which, when broken down for street sales, would provide 1,000 daily doses for an entire month.
After deliberating for less than three hours, a jury found Gaudrault guilty of drug smuggling and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking following his trial in March.
Gaudrault was arrested and charged March 17, 2018 after he was caught at the Carway border with 31 bricks of cocaine. That amount, border officials announced following Gaudrault’s arrest, was the largest seizure of drugs to date at the Carway Port of Entry, and worth between $1.4 million and $3.1 million, or more, depending on how it was mixed, cut and sold.
Border officers examined Gaudrault’s SUV and discovered a steel compartment under a panel. The compartment was locked from the inside and connected to the vehicle’s electrical system, and could only be opened by pressing a sequence of buttons on the vehicle’s console.
Officers drilled through the compartment and discovered white powder inside. A search of the vehicle revealed the one-kg bricks of cocaine.
Calgary lawyer Sean Fagan did not call any evidence and did not put Gaudrault on the stand, but said after the trial he believed the Crown failed to prove his client knew there were drugs in the vehicle.
Calgary lawyer Rosie Murphy, who appeared for Fagan at the sentencing hearing Thursday, told Madam Justice Kristine Eidsvik that Gaudrault was a one-time offender, whose crime was fuelled, not by greed, but by his own addiction to cocaine. Murphy suggested a seven-year sentence would satisfy the sentencing principles of denunciation and deterrence, and added Gaudrault was a good prospect for rehabilitation.
Murphy pointed out Gaudrault was raised by parents who had significant problems of their own, which took priority over raising their son. His mother suffered from mental health issues, as well as gambling and drug addictions, and she ultimately committed suicide.
“It’s pretty evident from his background that he didn’t stand much of a chance,” Murphy said.
Reading from a letter he had written, Gaudrault saidÂ his life has improved since the offence and he has stopped using cocaine.Â He also said he understood the seriousness of the crime and is thankful the drugs never reached their destination.
Justice Eidsvik has reserved her decision until June 9.
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