The air was light as Michael Phillip Desbiens walked into the Supreme Court of Canada on Monday morning for the first day of his sentencing hearing.
Desbiens, dressed in a suit jacket and dress pants, walked into the court room with his arms handcuffed behind his back. As the sheriff unlocked his handcuffs, Desbiens asked McKay for help with his tie, before sitting down in the defence box.
The Crown, represented by Thomas Corsi, is seeking a total sentence of 17 years in prison for two separate indictments both before Justice Myers. The first includes four years for possessions for the purpose of trafficking and another four years for possession of a prohibited firearm. For the second indictment, the Crown is seeking a nine year sentence, for two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking along with possession of a prohibited firearm.
The question of whether the sentences should be served consecutively or concurrent is up for debate in the courts. Myers recognized the Crown’s asking was severe but Corsi rebutted saying the crimes were “beyond something we see in Victoria.”
One of the biggest aggravating factors is that Desbiens was out on bail for the first indictment, when he committed the second indictment’s crimes.
Corsi agreed in saying that totality does need to be taken into account when handing out this sentence but said he would leave that consideration in the Justice’s hands.
The first indictment happened in October 2016, when Desbiens and two other men were arrested during a traffic stop. Police pulled over the car because they suspected Desbiens, who was prohibited from driving at the time, was driving. Desbiens was not behind the wheel but police saw a gun in the side pocket of the back seat.
Desbiens pleaded guilty to possession for the purpose of trafficking and to possession of a prohibited loaded semi-automatic handgun, something both the Crown and the defence call a mitigating factor.
The second indictment occurred on June 28, 2017 while Desbiens was out on recognizance for the first offence. Saanich Police found methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, cash, ammunition and a sawed-off shotgun in a car Desbiens had occupied.
Donald McKay, Desbiens’ defence lawyer, is seeking a total sentence of five years for both indictments, plus three years of probation. Desbiens has three years of time served credit which would be subtracted from the total, leaving two more years in custody and three years of probation.
Myers called his ask “a huge reach,” McKay argued that Desbiens rehabilitation has a significant role to play citing his move to the Right Living Unit in the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre.
McKay says the circumstances leading to the crimes play a significant role, stating that Desbiens was in the grip of a huge addiction with little alternatives offered to him, along with a medical condition that leaves him in so much pain some days he can not walk or dress himself.
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