Defence appeal from 3-year sentence after accused pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking. Appellant was 24 years old, and had a prior related record. Suggestion that appellant dealt drugs to support his own addiction. Issue on appeal of whether sentencing judge erred in giving the guilty plea limited weight since the accused was “caught red-handed without an apparent defence”. Defence submitted at sentencing that there were potential Charter issues.

Held: Appeal dismissed.

The evidence on the record “did not disclose a clear Charter defence… defence counsel suggested a possible Charter defence arising from the circumstances…but did not provide sufficient details to support the conclusion that it was a viable defence.”  In the circumstances, the sentencing judge was entitled to give limited weight to the guilty plea, as per Hilsen, 2014 ABCA 310 and Burback, 2012 ABCA 30. Considering the 3-year starting point, prior record and fact that the offence was committed while on bail, 3 years’ jail was fit.

A. Attia – Defence Counsel