An Abbotsford man has had his jail sentence reduced from five years to four on a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking in fentanyl and carfentanil.
Sukhvir Gill, 23, pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count each of drug trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking.
He was sentenced in May 2021, but appealed the sentence, saying it was “demonstrably unfit.”
The B.C. Court of Appeal issued its decision on April 7.
According to court documents, Gill was working with his neighbours, Sarabjit and Karan-Jit Mann, in trafficking fentanyl, carfentanil and cocaine in early 2017.
The Mann brothers pleaded guilty later that year. Karan-Jit – who faced the same two charges as Gill – was sentenced to three years and 75 days on two charges, while Sarabjit received a five-year sentence for 11 drug charges and one prohibited-gun charge.
The men were arrested after an Abbotsford Police officer on March 9, 2017 arranged through text messages on one of the Mann brothers’ drug-line numbers to purchase $1,800 worth of fentanyl, the documents state.
The following day, Gill delivered the drugs to an undercover officer. The drugs were later analyzed to contain a mix of cocaine and carfentanil weighing 6.53 grams.
A second sale for $2,500 was arranged for April 3, 2017. The court documents state that Gill was a passenger in the truck that arrived to deliver the drugs. He and the driver were then arrested.
A search of the truck turned up seven bags of fentanyl weighing a total of 2.14 grams and three bags containing a combination of carfentanil, fentanyl and caffeine weighing 8.12 grams, the documents state.
Gill pleaded guilty in April 2019. At sentencing, the Crown sought eight years’ imprisonment, while the defence recommended a suspended sentence.
The court documents indicate that Gill was 19 years old at the time of the offence and had no criminal record.
They state that he was working towards a network engineering diploma and had a supportive family.
Gill said his motivation for the offences was to be able to buy luxury-brand items.
The judge, in her reasons for sentence, said she considered Gill’s offences serious, given the province’s drug crisis.
“At that time, the deadliness of fentanyl was well known and carfentanil, of course, is even deadlier than fentanyl … it is no doubt in my mind that the amount of drugs you had, in most likelihood, would have caused harm to members of our society,” she said.
Gill was sentenced to two years on the trafficking charge and five years (concurrent) on the charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking. He appealed only the latter charge.
The court documents state that he appealed the sentence on the basis that the sentencing judge erred by “considering aggravating factors, failing to consider mitigating factors and failing to apply the principles of parity, rehabilitation and restraint – resulting in a demonstrably unfit sentence.”
Two of the three Court of Appeal judges agreed that Gill’s sentence should be reduced.
“The circumstance of the offence require a penitentiary sentence that reflects the principles of denunciation and deterrence but this must be tempered by the appellant’s youth and prospects for rehabilitation,” wrote Justice Barbara Fisher in the decision.
The dissenting Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein said the five-year sentence should stand “considering the perils of fentanyl and carfentanil.”