Judge rejects reduced sentence for Coquitlam fentanyl dealer facing possible deportation

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A man convicted of trafficking fentanyl through a dial-a-dope ring in Coquitlam recently had his appeal thrown out by a panel of three judges of the BC Court of Appeal.

Sean Stampp had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months in jail.

On appeal, his lawyer attempted to introduce new evidence about Stampp’s mental health to reduce the sentence or allow Stampp to serve his time in the community.

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The lawyer also argued the sentencing judge failed to consider the immigration consequences of the sentence.

Stamp was arrested in April 2019 through a Coquitlam RCMP investigation into drug trafficking. He was 21-years old at the time of his arrest.

Police had obtained a warrant for a cellphone being used to facilitate drug deals. That investigation led the police to a gas station in Coquitlam, where they observed a drug-reloading event, The police called the dial-a-dope number and Stampp sold an undercover officer $480 worth of fentanyl.

After the sale, officers followed Stampp for two hours and observed him attending three other short meetings, which appeared to be drug sales, before they arrested Stampp.

Background

Stampp was born in Jamaica and is a permanent resident of Canada, having immigrated with his family in 2009.

He has documented mental health challenges, having suffered bouts of paranoia and auditory hallucinations in his youth.

Stampp was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and substance-induced psychosis in 2017, the latter stemming from a history of substance abuse. He claimed to have stopped using psychosis-inducing drugs following his diagnosis.

For short periods he has been hospitalized in psychiatric units, most recently in October 2019, following his arrest.

He did not have a criminal record when he was arrested, but was on probation from a conditional discharge related to an earlier incident.

Sentence upheld

At the sending, the Crown had sought a 22-month sentence, along with other conditions, but the sentencing judge granted a lesser sentence of one year due to a number of factors.

Writing for the panel of judges, Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon, found the sentencing judge’s reasons were “thorough and careful,.” and that the judge had taken into consideration mitigating factors in imposing a sentence, such as his guilty plea, his youth, his previous mental health challenges, and his efforts at rehabilitation.

On the other hand, the sentencing judge had found that there were aggravating factors including the insidious and dangerous nature of fentanyl, and the number of deaths that it has and continues to cause, the involvement in a dial-a-dope ring, and being motivated by profit rather than addiction.

The Court of Appeal noted that a 12-month sentence is significantly below the usual range of 18-to-36-month sentence for fentanyl trafficking.

Stampp’s lawyers tried to introduce new evidence on appeal, including the reports of two doctors stating that Stampp was suffering from symptoms of psychosis at the time of the offence.

One report stated that Stampp’s “thinking, behaviour and judgement were significantly impaired” due to his mental health conditions in conjunction with his consumption of a number of illicit drugs.

However, the Court did not allow Stampp to introduce the reports based on the fact that nothing would be gained by accepting them. Both reports were premised on factual assumptions that did not have proper foundation, namely that Stampp was consuming drugs at the time of the offence, which Stampp himself contradicted, and the assumption that Stampp was suffering from an episode of psychosis at the time of the offence.

Lastly, the Court of Appeal concluded that since the sentencing judge had in fact considered Stampp’s general mental health at the time of the offence, the Court of Appeal concluded that the new evidence would not have changed the resulting sentence and therefore, it should not be admitted.

The immigration consequences to Stampp and his family were also reviewed by the sentencing judge.
Permanent residents convicted of drug trafficking may be issued a deportation order, and those convicted of six- months or more lose the right of appeal.

A deportation would separate Stampp from his three children, girlfriend and nuclear family, who all reside in B.C.

The sentencing judge decided against a conditional sentence, stating that the immigration “consequences must not be allowed to skew the sentencing process.” Further, the Court noted that a lesser sentence would not be appropriate because it was not in line with the principles of sentencing deterrence and denunciation. Furthermore, the standard for the Court of Appeal to change a sentencing decision is very high and in this case, the Court of Appeal found that the sentencing Court had not made any errors.

“Mr. Stampp was involved in a dial-a-dope operation dedicated exclusively to the sale of fentanyl, a deadly drug responsible for hundreds of deaths in B.C. every month. He was not an addict, but sold fentanyl entirely for financial gain,” Fenlon concluded.

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