PORT HARDY— A young Port Hardy man paid the price last week for his involvement in a dial-a-dope operation.
Dominic Dube appeared before the court on cocaine trafficking charges relating to an RCMP operation conducted last summer and fall. Before facing those charges he first had to answer to an unrelated shoplifting charge after being caught trying to leave Overwaitea with pepperoni in his backpack.
A civil loss officer observed Dube place $14.54 worth of the meat product in his bag on Sept 22 before exiting the store. He was then challenged by the officer and the police were called. Dube was also deemed to be in breach of a curfew during the occurrence.
Crown counsel John Blackman noted that Dube had no previous record and suggested that a suspended sentence or modest fine would be in order. Defence Counsel Paul Grier informed the court that his client was returning home from work at the time of the offence, and had taken the food for his family after his child tax credit and pay were late.
The breach count was stayed after the court heard that his detainment after the offence had led him to break curfew.
Justice R. Sutton ordered a $250 fine to be paid by Nov 30 in relation to the offence.
Crown counsel Corbett then took overas the court turned its attention to the trafficking charges.
The court heard that Dube first came to the attention of the RCMP when they were supplied with his cellphone number and the name ‘Dom’ in relation to drugs in Port Hardy on July 15, 2011. Officers then initiated a text conversation with the defendant before setting up a buy at Robert Scott Elementary. Dube and another male were arrested when they came to complete the deal.
A subsequent search of Dube’s backpack turned up a quantity of powdered cocaine and a further quantity of crack cocaine, as well as $250 cash and his cellphone.
Officers inspecting the cellphone the day after the arrest noted 31 pages of texts, some personal and some drug-related, between July 15 and 16. They concluded that Dube was involved in an active, ongoing operation. Dube was later released pending an Oct. 12 court date.
On Aug. 26 of the same year RCMP officers again received a number belonging to Dube and undercover officers got in touch seeking cocaine. Dube agreed to supply half a gram for $50 and a meet was set up.
During the buy Dube informed the undercover officer that his operation was “the only game in town,” telling the officer that his competitors had been put out of business by the police, and added that he himself had recently been “busted”.
The next night, arrangements were made to buy a larger quantity, and the officer bought 2.7 grams for $275 from Dube.
On October 28 the undercover officer resumed contact with Dube, buying another half gram and asking to buy a larger quantity the following night. When asked if he could supply a quarter ounce, Dube informed the officer that “I can do a lot more,” adding, “I have tons”.
The next night, the officer and Dube settled on a price of $900 for a half ounce, and a surveillance team observed Dube leave his home and proceed to make the deal. An 8.5-gram package was exchanged for the cash, and Dube was arrested leaving the scene.
A search warrant was then executed on Dube’s home, turning up two more packages of cocaine at 5.4 and 3.5 grams, in addition to 99g of marijuana, and 12g of psilocybin mushrooms. Some firearms were also recovered in a gun safe, to which Dube had no apparent access.
Crown contended that the operation was run purely for profit, and continued in increasing quantities even when on an undertaking following the first instance. Citing several case law examples, Crown put forward the opinion that a jail term was the appropriate sentence and requested a global sentence of two years, plus or minus one day, dependent on whether the Judge was considering a Conditional Sentencing Order or incarceration.
Crown further made its case by pointing to issues highlighted in the pre-sentencing report, namely Dube’s lack of impulse control and history of risk-taking behavior, being indicative of a likelihood to reoffend without rigid structure.
The Defence explained that the firearms in the home were bequeathed by Dube’s grandfather to Dube’s uncle and Crown agreed that they were unrelated to the offences before the court.
The Defence said that his client had got involved in “the stupidest, most bone-headed, ill-conceived scheme” in order to provide for his family. It then argued that Dube was a good candidate for a CSO, being now employed and living with his grandmother, in addition to attending mental health and addictions sessions. The Defence also pointed out that his family would be punished were he to be incarcerated, his partner having health issues and nowhere to go in his absence.
Dube, the Defence stated, truly regretted his actions, and was embarrassed and ashamed.
In a thorough judgement, Justice Sutton described Dube as, “a fairly naïve young man caught up in the glamour and fast money of the drug trade.”
He said Dube had failed to grasp the gravity of his crimes, and noted that the defendant had spent his profits on luxuries while living under the generosity of his grandmother.
The Judge referred to some of the case law highlighted in the Crown’s argument in explaining his judgement. Bearing these in mind, and considering that others in the community would take heed of the sentence handed down in this case, Judge Sutton said that he was “not of the mind that a CSO [would be] appropriate”.
As this sank in, Dube broke down before standing to address the court. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I got caught up in this, I feel like I’ve let my family down.” He told the court he owed money to his supplier, and felt he had to continue dealing in order to pay him back, otherwise he would get beat up. He told the court he had plans to go to Ontario and get his life back on track.
After hearing Dube out, Judge Sutton continued with sentencing, ordering Dube to serve three months for the first offence without probation. On the second count, the judge ordered Dube to serve nine months concurrent as Dube let out an audible gasp.
“Oh my God, nine months,” said a visibly shaken Dube.
The Judge continued, explaining that the second charge was to carry one year’s probation in addition to a DNA order and, since it was a second trafficking offence, a mandatory lifetime ban on firearms.
The defence asked if the judge would defer the sentence by one day to allow his client to make arrangements for his family. The judge declined, pointing out that Dube would be held over for a day in Port Hardy and his family could visit him here, before the sheriff directed Dube to holding.
The firearms in the case were also ordered to be forfeited to the Crown in 90 days’ time if the rightful owner, or someone with a letter of permission and the appropriate permits, does not claim them.