A thumbprint discovered on a high intensity light used in powering a marijuana growing operation proved to be a key factor in convicting a drug dealer on Tuesday.
Jay Hein Tang, 42, of Red Deer will be sentenced today after he was convicted of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and the theft of electricity following a two-day Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench trial.
Tang should be sent to jail for two to two and a half years, argued federal Crown prosecutor Dave Inglis.
Justice June Ross of Edmonton said she needed time to assess the appropriate sentence after defence lawyer Lauren Garcia lobbied for a conditional sentence to be served in the community.
Tang was busted by RCMP in November 2007. They found 586 marijuana plants in various stages of growth at a residence on Selkirk Boulevard in Sunnybrook.
Ross heard the value of the operation was estimated at between $750,000 and $1 million yearly if three crops were harvested.
The operation was conducted in the basement and was powered by electricity that Tang had diverted from the City of Red Deer power lines.
Ross said the most compelling evidence was that Tang’s thumbprint was found on the socket of a light designed to illuminate plants and covered by a large shade.
“There’s just no way of explaining that piece of evidence,” the judge said.
His fingerprints were also found on 11 beer bottles throughout the house.
Tang contended he had rented the house to a couple of men whose names he couldn’t remember. He also couldn’t provide documentation about the rental agreements or receipts of rent.
Garcia, in her summation, said her client was afraid to tell RCMP the men’s names because of the fear of retaliation.
Inglis said Tang’s evidence was contrived because it was vague and evasive.
Inglis argued that a conditional sentence isn’t warranted because at least four other convictions in Red Deer in the last year for similar offences have all resulted in jail terms.
“Looking at this in a bigger sense, the judiciary in this community have resisted conditional sentences.”
He said when a person sets up a grow operation of this size, their action is a danger to the community.