HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Stanley Park Six Face Drug Court Judge For Sentencing
Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jan 2004
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Vancouver Courier
Author: Mike Howell


The judge who will sentence six Vancouver police constables tomorrow for
assaulting three suspected drug dealers in Stanley Park last year is also a
drug court judge.

How Vancouver provincial court judge Herb Weitzel's dealings with
drug-addicted dealers will play into his decision is difficult to determine,
however, because judges rarely give interviews.

Weitzel is one of three judges presiding over the two-year-old drug court,
which operates out of courtroom 309 at the provincial courthouse on Main

The three suspected drug dealers beaten in Stanley Park Jan. 14 have all
faced drug-related charges. Their lawyer, Phil Rankin, couldn't be reached
to determine whether Barry Lawrie, Grant Wilson or Jason Desjardins were
part of the drug court program, or had applied to it.

All participants in the year-long program are longtime addicts, many of whom
started using drugs in their teens. Many are infected with Hepatitis C and
HIV and have criminal histories tied to smalltime drug dealing and petty

The addicts are selected by the federal Crown prosecution office, which
approves charges on drug possession and drug dealing. In reviewing each
file, the Crown looks for addicts who sell drugs, commit petty thefts to
feed their addiction, have no history of violence and are longtime users.

Depending on the seriousness of the addiction, addicts can be required to
undergo weekly urine tests at the court's treatment centre, take methadone
to fight heroin urges, participate in group counselling, abide by a curfew
and keep away from the Downtown Eastside.

If they're successful in the program-which could mean staying sober for four
months, having stable housing and working or going to school-addicts won't
go to jail, although their sentences could still include probation. The goal
is to stop the revolving-door effect, where addicts are in and out of jail.

On the night Lawrie, Wilson and Desjardins were arrested by police on the
Granville mall, they were suspected of dealing drugs. Along with a woman
called Shannon Pritchard, who was released in the West End, they were loaded
into a police wagon and taken to a parking lot at Third Beach in Stanley

The three men were berated, pushed, punched and hit with a baton by five of
the constables, Duncan Gemmell, Brandon Steele, Gabriel Kojima, Christopher
Cronmiller and Raymond Gardner. Acting Sgt. James Kenney is the only
constable who had no physical or verbal contact with the victims, according
to the "Statement of Agreed Facts" filed in provincial court.

All six constables, who have been suspended with pay since last January,
pleaded guilty in November to assaulting the three men. At the sentencing
hearing two weeks ago, defence lawyers said the six made a mistake and are
remorseful. They argued a conditional discharge-which would not give the men
a criminal record-and community service would be appropriate.

Weitzel is the same judge who presided over a case three years ago involving
six other cops who trashed a Commercial Drive drug den in 1998. Calling the
cops' testimony "completely lacking in credibility," Weitzel tossed the case
out against the suspected drug dealers.

In June 2002, Sgt. Sharron Bayley, a 22-year veteran, and Const. Jodyne
Keller were found guilty of discreditable conduct for trashing the

Following Weitzel's decision tomorrow, the constables involved in the
Stanley Park affair will face an internal disciplinary hearing where they'll
find out if they can keep their jobs.
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