Jail for cocaine trafficking
Escapes federal prison sentence
A Glace Bay man narrowly escaped a federal prison sentence Friday after pleading guilty to a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking in cocaine.
Tadd James McNeil, 23, of Gregor Street, was charged in June 2013 after Cape Breton Regional Police received information he was selling cocaine from his vehicle.
At the time of his arrest, police seized 3.4 grams of the drug.
Prosecutor Theresa O’Leary recommended a two-year federal sentence while defence lawyer Cheryl Morrison recommended a one to two month jail sentence followed by probation.
Until recent federal amendments to sentencing on such a charge, a conditional sentence was an option for judges which would have allowed an accused to serve their time in the community under strict conditions.
However, such discretion no longer exists and the benchmark sentence for such an offence is two years.
In passing sentence, provincial court Judge David Ryan concluded that given McNeil’s cooperation with police, his efforts to rehabilitate himself of a cocaine addiction and other measures to improve his life, the sentencing objectives could be achieved by a short jail sentence and probation.
He sentenced McNeil to serve a 60-day sentence, to be served on weekends, followed by a 15-month probation period during which he is to refrain from alcohol and all drugs not prescribed him by a physician. He is also to take all counselling as recommended by his probation officer.
McNeil is also to submit a DNA sample to the national registry, is banned from possessing firearms for 10 years and must complete 40 hours of community service work.
“It appears things are turning around in your life,” said Ryan, cautioning McNeil that any further offences will result in a federal jail term.
McNeil was described as being a petty retailer who ad- mitted to police he only started selling cocaine two weeks prior to getting caught. Such sales were a way in which to support his own habit.
A high school honours graduate, McNeil recently completed an engineering program at community college and has plans to continue his education in that field.
Ryan said while he can’t ignore that McNeil brought co- caine into his community, he needed to find a balance in sentencing that deterred McNeil and others while also focusing on rehabilitation to make McNeil a more productive member of his community.
“He knows this conviction will shut some doors to him that he will have to work hard to reopen,” said Morrison, in her remarks to the court.