A West Kelowna fentanyl dealer with a history of skipping bail has been granted day parole.
Leslie McCulloch, 43, started serving a sentence of eight years, one month and 28 days for drug production, possession and trafficking in July of 2019.
His sentencing hearing for those crimes was in January 2019, but he missed that court date because he skipped bail. A Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest, with RCMP eventually tracking him down in April 2019.
Since then, the Parole Board of Canada said McCulloch made good use of his time in prison, stating he engaged in his correctional plan, joined Narcotics Anonymous and “accepted responsibility” for his actions.
“Getting caught and going to jail changed my life,” he told the board.
So, on Sept. 3, the Parole Board of Canada granted him the right to legitimately leave prison and reside at a community residential facility, where he will receive counselling and get a day job.
McCulloch will not have unfettered freedom. Among other things, he will not be able to associate with known criminals, go near illegal drugs or have more than one mobile device.
Read more: Warrant issued for West Kelowna drug dealer
“Having weighed all of the factors, the board has concluded that because you have maintained a lengthy period of sobriety, you were successful on bail for a lengthy time before being incarcerated, you have fully applied yourself to programming, including maintenance programming, have good release plans that involve familial supports, have the support of several (community-based residential facilities) and your (case manager), that you present a manageable risk on a day parole,” reads the Parole Board of Canada decision, granting day parole for a period of six months.
“It is the board’s opinion that you will not present an undue risk to society if released on day parole and that your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen.”
“Law-abiding” are two words that have not often been associated with McCulloch whose criminal record goes back to 1999.
Court documents once described him as a “middleman for the Hells Angels,” though today the Parole Board said he only has distant affiliations with a security threat group. He was on parole for a previous possession for trafficking when he got into his latest predicament.
That was in 2016, when RCMP saw him again with known drug dealers and gang members, according to the parole board, and in turn conducted a raid on his auto restoration shop, Kandy and Krome Kustoms.
The raid yielded cocaine, fentanyl, oxycodone, paraphernalia related to dealing those drugs and $35,000 in cash.
According to the Parole Board of Canada, McCulloch had an out-of-control drug addiction and a related debt of $30,000 that he was unable to keep up with.
He made a deal with some drug producers and allowed them to use his shop in exchange for an ongoing supply of drugs for his own consumption and regular payments towards his drug debt.
He also enjoyed the financial benefits from the drug-dealing operation until that 2016 raid.
McCulloch pleaded guilty to possession for the purpose of trafficking and production of a controlled substance in February of 2017, and later tried unsuccessfully to take back that plea.
He was granted bail and then he went on the lam. Once he went into prison, he didn’t stay there comfortably. The pandemic broke out shortly after he was put behind bars and he applied for exceptional parole in April of 2020.
McCulloch suffers from asthma and his doctor wrote a note saying that COVID-19 “may be fatal in people with pre-existing lung conditions.”
It’s unclear if there was a parole hearing before this one.
This parole board decision is good for six months.