A Calgary man avoided jail time after pleading guilty to possession for the purposes of trafficking of almost six kilograms of marijuana in Revelstoke court last week.
Kelly P. O’Brien, 23, was handed a nine month conditional sentence, including a period of house arrest after being caught in a vehicle with 5,896 grams of marijuana and $2,380 in cash.
The sentence was a joint submission by federal Crown counsel and O’Brien’s defence lawyer. Justice Mayland McKimm accepted the proposed sentence, and said it was a sign of society’s changing attitudes on drugs.
“I would suggest if this had taken place three or four years ago, you’d be spending four or five years in a penitentiary,” he said. “But, as I say, the world is quickly changing and the law has to adjust with that.”
O’Brien was arrested on Jan. 29 when he was stopped on the Trans-Canada Highway while driving a Cadillac Escalade with tinted front windows. The arresting officer could smell marijuana and a search of the car found one duffel bag with 220 grams of marijuana and $2,380 cash, and a second bag with 5,676 grams of marijuana.
Prosecutor Nick Vlahos said that in light of the early guilty plea and O’Brien’s lack of criminal record, that Crown was only asking for a nine month conditional sentence.
Chris Johnston, O’Brien’s lawyer, said that the crime “was an opportunity thing” and noted his clients good grades in school, volunteerism and participation in organized sports.
“Mr. O’Brien thought it was a quick way to make some money as a transporter, rather than actually being involved in the business,” said Johnston.
O’Brien apologized for his actions and said he was trying to put it behind him. “I want to apologize and from here on out I want to try and better myself,” he said.
McKimm was skeptical that it was a one-time thing for O’Brien, noting the quantities of drugs and money were large. He also noted other cases where people were given discharges despite being caught with large quantities of pot.
“We’re at a time in our evolution of our attitude towards drugs that it’s becoming difficult to comprehend how those principals of sentencing ought to apply,” said McKimm. “I am sending this man to live at home and work in the oil patch in Fort MacMurray to a highly paying job, which I assume is how this young man is able to buy a Cadillac Escalade, or how he was able to get $2,380 in cash, which most citizens don’t carry around.”
Despite that, he handed down a nine month conditional sentence, allowing O’Brien to travel to work in Fort MacMurray, but otherwise confined to his home.