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CONTROLLED DRUGS AND SUBSTANCES - Trafficking - Other substances - Conspiracy

Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 8:33 AM  

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Appeal by the accused, Parsons, from a conviction and sentence for conspiracy to traffic cocaine. In 2010, the police intercepted a mail package containing 305 grams of cocaine. The police arranged for a controlled delivery of the package. The police replaced the cocaine with another substance, a silent alarm and a tracking device. The package was tracked to the accused's residence via delivery by another individual eventually convicted as part of the conspiracy. The accused was arrested outside of his home after carrying a camping cooler to his vehicle. The cooler contained the package. The accused's domestic partner denied knowledge of any drug activity and signed a consent form permitting police to conduct a warrantless search. Police seized scales and $4,520 in cash. The trial judge found that the evidence supported a sole rational inference of the accused's involvement in a conspiracy to traffic cocaine. In 2015, the accused was convicted and sentenced to 25 months' imprisonment. The accused appealed.

HELD: Appeal from conviction dismissed; appeal from sentence allowed. The accused was not permitted to raise a s. 11(b) Charter argument for the first time on appeal, as the overall record was insufficient to allocate delay for the purpose of determining its reasonableness. The post-trial creation of a new analytical framework to s. 11(b) Charter issues did not justify granting leave to advance the issue on appeal. With respect to the merits, a review of the trial judge's factual findings supported a conclusion that the verdict reached was reasonable. The trial judge did not err in the application of the relevant legal principles to the facts in concluding that the accused was a member of the conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. No error arose from the conclusion that the accused's domestic partner, as a cohabitant in the residence, had authority to grant permission for the search, and that her consent was informed and voluntary. In sentencing the accused, the trial judge erred in principle by focusing on general deterrence to the exclusion of rehabilitation, and in applying the principle of parity by failing to distinguish the accused's antecedents from those of his co-conspirator. The offence was an outlier incident in the accused's non-criminal lifestyle. The custodial sentence was set aside and replaced by a conditional sentence of two years less one day. Sentence: Two years less one day’s conditional sentence.

R. v. Parsons, [2017] N.J. No. 371, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court - Court of Appeal, J.D. Green C.J.N.L., B.G. Welsh and L.R. Hoegg JJ.A., November 8, 2017. Digest No. TLD-November202017002