Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jul 2007
Source: Now, The (Surrey, CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Now Newspaper
Author: Tom Zytaruk, Surrey Now
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


A North Delta man who ran a large marijuana growing operation fed by
stolen electricity has lost an appeal of his 15-month jail sentence on
a two-to-one decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Keith Gordon Wallis received that prison sentence and one year's
probation for growing 638 pot plants in a house he co-owned with his
parents, in the 11100-block of 81A Avenue.

During his trial, Wallis argued his constitutional right to be secure
from unreasonable search and seizure was violated because B.C. Hydro
employees who had entered his property to locate an electrical bypass
were acting as agents for the police.

But failing to sway Judge John Lenaghan, Wallis eventually pleaded
guilty to the unlawful production of marijuana and was sentenced in
April 2005. He'd originally been charged with possession and
production of marijuana, and stealing electricity.

According to a pre-sentencing report, Wallis's parents had no idea
what he was up to and were "extremely disappointed" when they found
out he was growing pot in the house.

Wallis was 32 years old when sentenced. The court heard he has a
12-year-old daughter - who lives with her mom and step dad - and
worked as an auto mechanic before quitting his job to become a
full-time pot grower.

After his conviction he sold the house at a financial loss because of
damage from the grow op, but has compensated his parents since.

At sentencing, the Crown argued for a one-year term served either in
prison or at home, and the defence argued for one year's house arrest.

But Lenaghan hit him with the 15 months in prison plus a year's
probation in an attempt to deter other pot growers from "causing harm
in so many ways to the greater community."

"A conditional sentence," Lenaghan reasoned, "would in the
circumstances of this offence and this offender, utterly fail to
achieve these objectives."

He found the electric bypass posed a serious risk to Wallis's
neighbours, and found the accused's deception of his own family and
motivation by greed to be aggravating factors.

On Friday, Appeal Court Justice Risa Levine upheld the sentence with
Justice Pamela Kirkpatrick concurring. "The offence is driven by greed
and has obvious deleterious effects on the community," Levine noted.

Justice Allan Thackray dissented, finding 15 months house arrest
appropriate. "For over four years Mr. Wallis has lived a lawful and
productive life, returned to lawful employment, expressed regret for
his sojourn into crime and lived up to his word," he reasoned.
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