Vernon, B.C. fentanyl dealer sentenced to six years less time served

The Vernon Court House. Megan Turcato / Global News

A street-level Vernon fentanyl dealer who was experiencing homelessness when he was arrested three years ago was sentenced this week to six years in prison, less 33 months for time served.

Ravin Douglas, 29, was arrested after a run-in that happened while he was walking down the street on Dec. 4, 2019, in what has been described as an agitated state.

“His behaviour caught the attention of a civilian who had had no prior contact or interactions with Mr. Dugas. They made eye contact and this further agitated Mr. Dugas,” Justice Briana Hardwick said in a sentencing report released online this week.

“Mr. Dugas made some comment to the effect of, ‘what are you looking at?’ and then proceeded to reach into the front pocket of a distinctively coloured hooded sweatshirt he was wearing and pulled out the butt of a handgun.”

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“He flashed the civilian with the butt of the handgun, but it is conceded that the barrel of the handgun remained in the front pocket of his sweatshirt and was not fully brandished. There was no further interaction between Mr. Dugas and the civilian and no violence ensued. The civilian, however, contacted the RCMP and they promptly attended.”

When RCMP caught up with him, Dugas said he threw a loaded nine-millimeter semiautomatic handgun in the snow in the parking lot or possibly a storage compound of a local mechanics shop and he was arrested.

The gun was later located and so too was a significant cache of drugs.

In the bag he’d been carrying around, Ravin had approximately 59.05 grams of fentanyl in a single bag; 18.96 grams of cocaine in a single bag;  2.39 grams of phenacetin, an agent commonly used to cut cocaine; 159 tablets of benzodiazepine, an agent commonly used to cut fentanyl; a digital scale which was found to be contaminated with fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine; a small amount of methamphetamine with a pipe, consistent with being for personal use; a handgun magazine with ammunition consistent for use with the above‑noted 9mm semiautomatic handgun which was used in the incident with the civilian.

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Justice Hardwick said in sentencing, that based upon the evidence presented, the total amount of the fentanyl and cocaine seized was between $5,800 and $13,680, depending upon how it was trafficked, namely in bulk or on a street level.

Dugas, she wrote, had a traumatic upbringing, marred by violence and substance abuse. He himself started using drugs like methamphetamine and heroin by the time he was 16, points that were raised in a Gladue and pre-sentencing report that Hardwick had to weigh in her decision-making.

She also said she took into account statements Dugas made in his sentencing hearing.

“He expressed remorse for his conduct resulting in the guilty pleas, which I accept is genuine,” Hardwick wrote.

Read more: Convicted West Kelowna fentanyl trafficker fails to get full parole

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“One aspect of Mr. Dugas’s address which gave me some pause was his request for a sentence that would allow him to remain outside of a federal penitentiary, as he has been apparently informed by others that controlled substances are more readily available in a federal penitentiary, and so he would like to avoid a sentence which places him in such an institution.”

Hardwick wrote that leaving aside the obvious concern about the availability of controlled substances generally to individuals incarcerated, whether in provincial or federal institutions, the practical reality is that controlled substances will inevitably be available to Mr. Dugas upon his release from incarceration.

“In order to lead a prosocial life, Mr. Dugas needs to seek the necessary help to address the issues which are the root of his substance use and misuse,” Hardwick wrote.

“It is not a solution simply to reduce his access to controlled substances while in custody, as suggested. As such, I have not taken this particular portion of Mr. Dugas’s address to the court in consideration as part of my sentencing.”

Read more: ‘Slippery’ convicted fentanyl dealer from West Kelowna gets day parole reinstated

Dugas has pleaded guilty to two serious offenses, both of which Hardwick wrote, “create significant risk to the public, including contributing to the fentanyl scourge referred to above and the patently obvious risk of carrying a loaded prohibited weapon, particularly in a state of agitation as was described.”

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“Thus, I have concluded that a total fit sentence is six years’ imprisonment: four years for possession of fentanyl for the purposes of trafficking, and three years for possession of a loaded prohibited weapon, to be served consecutively, which shall be reduced to six years as a global sentence on the basis of the principle of proportionality.”

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