A 51-year-old Hope man has been sentenced to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to two drug charges.
Gordon Ronald Max Walthers was arrested on Oct. 27, 2010 for unlawfully possessing cocaine and ecstasy for the purposes of trafficking near Hope.
Intermittent police surveillance over a number of weeks starting in August 2010 determined that Walthers was operating a drug trafficking business from his home. On Oct. 27, 2010, the RCMP observed 51 visits involving 41 different people who attended the residence for two to three minutes. These individuals arrived on foot, bicycle and in vehicles.
Later that day, the RCMP obtained and executed a search warrant at the home. Inside police found Walthers and seven other individuals, most of whom were presumably there to purchase drugs.
Police seized a total of 27.3 grams of crack cocaine in a bedroom as well as scales. The quantities found varied between .1 gram and 10 grams. The value of the cocaine was between $2,180 and $2,730. There were also 16 tablets of ecstasy with a value of $160, hundreds of various prescription drugs, a score sheet and replica handgun.
“What was occurring out of his residence was analogous to a dial-a-dope operation, except the buyers came to his home rather than the other way around,” said B.C. Supreme Court justice William Smart, in his reasons for sentencing. “The offences here are serious because trafficking cocaine and ecstasy have serious consequences for society.”
Crown counsel Finn Jensen had sought a sentence between nine and 12 months incarceration, pointing out portions of the pre-sentence report and in particular the concern of the author that Walthers did not fully grasp the seriousness of his conduct and lacked the motivation to attend counselling and other programs to help him abstain from the use of drugs.
However, Brian Juriloff argued that a conditional sentence would be more appropriate for his client and one that combined all sentencing objectives, including rehabilitation.
Juriloff stressed that Walthers had pleaded guilty and taken responsibility for his actions. He filed a number of letters from various individuals who spoke highly of Walthers’ generosity, support and good character. Juriloff also noted that Walthers has demonstrated, while on bail over the last few years, that he would not endanger the community if he was permitted to serve his sentence out of jail.
Smart pointed out that this was not a “one-transaction offence by a young first-time offender.” Walthers had 17 previous convictions at the time of the two drug offences, most of which occurred when he was younger, few involved drugs, and few resulted in a jail sentence. In fact, he was convicted of mischief just days before he was arrested and was on probation.
“As such, Mr. Walthers signed his probation order and promised to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and yet continued to traffic drugs out of his residence,” said Smart. “A lack of understanding is what emerges from the pre-sentence report and is consistent with his failure to attend counselling and other programs intended to assist him. This increases the risk of harm and of him re-offending in the future.”
Walthers was sentenced to nine months’ incarceration for the first charge, and one month for the second charge to be served concurrently to the first sentence.