Casino winnings in Courtenay end in narcotics conviction - Vancouver Island Free Daily

Wednesday 9th December 2020

Powell River man regularly came over to Comox Valley to buy his drugs

A good day of casino winnings in Courtenay was the prompt for a Powell River man to purchase a large amount of narcotics that ended with his arrest - and now conviction.

John Darcy West was found guilty of possession for the purpose of trafficking on one count by Justice Nitya Iyer recently in B.C. Supreme Court, but he was cleared of two other trafficking charges. Verdict and sentencing decisions were released Dec. 7.

The accused, 42, lives in Powell River and runs a small gardening and landscaping business. On Dec. 19, 2018, he came over to the Comox Valley with a friend on an early ferry, first stopping to do some shopping before heading to the casino. West ended up winning $3,000 that day.

In the decision, Justice Iyer notes West has a long history of addiction, since age 12, and describes himself as a "functional user." On the day in question, he contacted his regular supplier. He usually travelled to the Comox Valley to buy narcotics because he found both the price and the quality to be better. That day, he bought half an "eight-ball" of fentanyl, seven grams of methamphetamine and 14 grams of cocaine. He had hoped to buy more methamphetamine but the supply was low, so he ended up supplementing it with the cocaine.

"Mr. West explained that he bought more drugs than he usually does both because he had won so much money and because that would enable him to avoid having to go back to Courtenay over the Christmas break," Iyer wrote. "He estimated that he could make the fentanyl last for about three weeks. He said that he intended to 'have a hurrah' over Christmas sharing the other drugs with his spouse and friends."

The 'hurrah' did not last long though. When West returned to Powell River that evening, he and friends were using some of the drugs at home, when the RCMP arrived in the early hours of Dec. 20, acting on outstanding warrants and a tip.

A key question for the judge was whether West intended to sell the drugs, which formed the heart of the Crown's case. Iyer accepted some of the accused's reasoning that he was planning to share drugs with friends. In the end, she accepted this defence when it came the counts for fentanyl and methamphetamine, but she found West guilty of trafficking on the count related to the cocaine.

"The evidence of Mr. West's intentions with respect to the cocaine is different," she wrote, citing an example where he had given the friend some cocaine in exchange for giving him a ride, which the judge explained was sufficient to establish possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The sentence included six months of imprisonment for possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking, 90 days for possession of fentanyl and 90 days for possession of methamphetamine, all to be served concurrently. With time in custody already exceeding the length of the sentence, this amounted to time-served. The sentence also included a DNA order and a lifetime firearms restriction.

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