Unprecedented 14-year sentence for fentanyl dealer sends a ‘strong message’: minister

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WATCH: An unprecedented sentence handed down today for a convicted drug dealer. With the fentanyl crisis killing hundreds of people across the province, the crown wanted to make an example of Walter James McCormick. As John Hua reports, the judge obviously agreed – Jan 31, 2017

A precedent-setting sentence has been handed out to a high-level fentanyl dealer in Metro Vancouver.

Walter James McCormick was sentenced to 14 years in prison for what the prosecution called “bearing personal responsibility” for hundreds of fentanyl-related deaths in B.C.

The Crown had asked for an unprecedented 18-year prison sentence.

McCormick was one of 10 people arrested following Project Tainted, an operation that stemmed from a spike in overdoses back in October 2014.

READ MORE: North Vancouver couple accused of being fentanyl ‘kingpins’

“I think this is a great step forward that courts are finally recognizing the seriousness of the fentanyl issue,” Public Safety Minister Mike Morris said.

“These individuals have been operating for so long, taking advantage of the most vulnerable people that we have in society. This sends a strong message, from my perspective.”

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Defence lawyer Lawrence Myers acknowledged the seriousness of the province’s fentanyl crisis but said an eight- or nine-year sentence would have been more appropriate.

“Where I’m troubled is when the community develops a lynch mob mentality,” he said. “They think if they just hang Mr. McCormick out to dry by giving him a horrendous sentence that that’s going to solve the problem. We know that not to be true.”

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