The end users of cocaine are the people most directly responsible for the plague it inflicts upon the community, says a Red Deer judge.
Judge Jim Mitchell took the unusual step in Red Deer provincial court on Tuesday of flatly rejecting a joint sentencing submission proposed by the Crown and defence counsel.
“I am acting in the community’s interest in rejecting this joint submission,” Mitchell said in addressing a proposal by Crown prosecutor Dave Inglis and defence counsel Kevin Sproule.
They had recommended an elevated fine for dairy worker Jed Richard Moore, 29, who had pleaded guilty to simple possession of cocaine, simple possession of marijuana and driving without being able to produce a licence.
Brought before the court on Tuesday morning, Moore was ordered into custody while his lawyer and the Crown prepared reasons why he should not be jailed.
“People like you must experience prison,” Mitchell said to Moore.
“It’s the only way to deter this terrible plague on our community.”
Back in court after lunch, having heard Sproule argue against a jail sentence, Mitchell said the few hours Moore had spend in custody may have been enough for him and his friends to get the message that he hopes to convey.
“This court is not friendly to cocaine, or any other hard drug. The damage cocaine does to our community is immeasurable.”
Mitchell said he does not have any precise data, but has 39 years of experience in criminal law including 15 years on the bench.
Hardly a day goes by that the court does not see people suffering from the affects of “cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, ecstasy or some other God forsaken rat poison,” said Mitchell.
He accepted Sproule’s argument that Moore had saved considerable expense to the state by entering an early guilty plea in a case that the Crown may not have been able to prove.
Noting Moore’s previous convictions for impaired driving and simple possession, Mitchell offered a sentence that he said should help the man with his substance abuse issues.
He suspended sentence, placing Moore on probation for 15 months, including an order that he take assessment, treatment and counselling under the supervision of a probation officer.