Pubdate: Tue, 27 Dec 2016
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Times Colonist
Author: Louise Dickson
Page: A4


The courts must do whatever they can to stop or reduce drug
trafficking, a Nanaimo judge said last week as he handed a drug
trafficker a six-month jail sentence.

On Dec. 19, Trevor Lee Sihota pleaded guilty to possession of heroin
for the purpose of trafficking. Sihota, a 35-year-old recovering crack
cocaine and crystal meth addict, was arrested on March 7, 2013. Police
found 42.7 grams of heroin valued at $4,700 to $6,000 in his apartment.

Provincial court Judge Ted Gouge noted that Sihota had suffered a
series of misfortunes in his life, which probably contributed to his
decision to traffic in heroin. Gouge also noted that Sihota had the
loving support of his family, who have suffered with him.

"It is impossible not to feel compassion for them," said Gouge. "The
countervailing factor is that narcotics trafficking is epidemic in
B.C. and particularly in Nanaimo. The consequences are tragic. Many
lives are ruined by the drugs sold by Mr. Sihota. The rate of overdose
is increasing exponentially. The victims of drug trafficking are also
worthy of compassion."

Gouge said the primary objective of sentencing in cases of narcotics
trafficking must be to stop or reduce drug trafficking.

Court heard that Sihota completed three years of a four-year program
at Vancouver Island University, but left the program because he
"couldn't do the starving student anymore."

He worked in the hospitality industry in Victoria for about three
years, then worked briefly as a car salesman. He lost that job because
he was using crack cocaine.

Sihota opened a pizza shop, then worked at his parents' coffee shop.
Since his arrest, he has worked for his parents, who have a contract
to provide janitorial and maintenance services to a chain of gas stations.

Sihota started drinking alcohol when he was 13. At 15, he started
smoking marijuana. At 19, he did cocaine. In his late 20s, he began
using crack cocaine, crystal meth and GHB.

He went to a residential drug treatment program four times, but it was

Sihota told the court he began selling drugs to make money, but
because his own drug use escalated it became a matter of just trying
to pay for the drugs that he and his girlfriend were using.

He is now in recovery and attends regular meetings of Alcoholics
Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. His sponsors speak highly of his
motivation, said Gouge.

In a letter to the court, his doctor said if Sihota continues
treatment and avoids cocaine, his prospects for continued improvement
and resumption of a full life are good.

Sihota has taken some positive steps to turn his life around, but the
outcome remains very much in doubt, said Gouge, who believes Sihota is
at high risk to relapse and reoffend.

In cases of this kind, it is necessary to balance the public interest
in rehabilitation against the public interest in deterring drug
trafficking by imposing prison sentences for that crime.

"Many, perhaps most, recovering addicts who receive jail sentences
relapse while in custody and re-enage in trafficking on their
release," said Gouge. "In some cases, the public interest in
suppressing the drug trade is best served on a suspended sentence and
a period of probation, in the hope the offender will continue on a
path to becoming a responsible and contributing member of society."

In other cases, where the risk of relapse in the community remains
high, the importance of deterrence is more significant, he said.

"In this case. I think that the importance of denunciation and
deterrence outweighs that of rehabilitation, and that a six month jail
sentence is appropriate and necessary."

During 18 months of probation, Sihota has been ordered to participate
in and successfully complete counselling as directed by his probation
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