By Delon Shurtz on June 10, 2021.
Citing Bradley Michael Gaudrault’s young age, troubled upbringing and drug addiction, a judge rejected a recommendation for a prison sentence of 12-15 years, and sentenced the drug smuggler to eight and a half years in a federal penitentiary.
“He was a one-time courier of a large amount of cocaine,” Madam Justice Kristine Eidsvik said Wednesday during the offender’s sentencing hearing in a Calgary courtroom.
“He was young, from a troubled background, suffering from addiction, unemployment and poverty when the events occurred. He is remorseful and recognizes the gravity of this offence, especially having witnessed the ravages of addictions first hand with his parents.”
Following a jury trial in March, Gaudrault was found guilty of unlawful importation and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking. The 29-year-old was caught with 31 kilograms of cocaine as he tried to enter Canada through the Carway border south of Cardston on March 17, 2018. The drugs were worth between $1.4 million and $3.1 million, depending on how they were to be cut and sold.
Calgary lawyer Sean Fagan was seeking a seven-year prison term, and during a sentencing hearing last month his agent, lawyer Rosie Murphy, said 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.
The Crown, however, recommended the much longer sentence, and said at the sentencing hearing in May the Alberta Court of Appeal had ruled that a sentence of 10-12 years is appropriate for importation cases where a guilty plea has been offered. Crown Prosecutor Kent Brown said defence is ignoring the appeal court’s ruling, and pointed out Gaudrault chose to stand trial rather than plead guilty. Brown suggested there are no mitigating factors to warrant a sentence in the range defence recommended.
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.
Eidsvik said Wednesday, however, the jury found that not only did Gaudrault’s vehicle contain the hidden drugs, he knew they were there.
“Mr. Gaudrault knew that he was carrying 31 bricks of cocaine in his vehicle, and he had control over the cocaine,” Eidsvik said.
Although sentenced to eight and a half years in prison, Eidsvik gave Gaudrault enhanced credit of nearly six months for time he spent in custody after his arrest and after he was found guilty.
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