Hamish Roth tearfully waved to family as he was led out of a Lethbridge courtroom Thursday on his way to a federal penitentiary.
After pleading guilty last year to drug-related charges, Roth was finally sentenced this week in Lethbridge provincial court to one count each of drug trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime, for which he was sentenced to 28 months in prison.
As Judge Jerry LeGrandeur passed sentence, the accused looked at his family sitting nearby then placed his head into his hands moments before being ushered out of the courtroom
The young man was charged with two others in April 2011 in connection with a rare seizure of heroin But charges against Padan Cassidy Ashcroft and William Bryant Hatch were withdrawn by the Crown following Roth's sentencing hearing.
"It's not likely he will be involved in something like this again," LeGrandeur said moments before passing sentence.
The judge said the suggested starting point for trafficking in serious drugs is five years in prison, and the amount of time levied can go up or down from there depending on an accused's circumstances and degree of culpability. Although LeGrandeur acknowledged heroin is more harmful than cocaine, and Roth, as a courier, was an integral part of the drug trafficking system, he noted the accused did not have a previous criminal record and he did not own or supply the drugs.
Lethbridge lawyer Greg White also pointed out his client was prepared to take full responsibility for his role in drug trafficking and was prepared to go to jail more than a year ago when he pleaded guilty.
"He understands what he did was wrong," White said, adding his client is the only one of the three accused who is going to jail.
"He wants to serve his time. He wants to get it done."
White also pointed out that while Roth acknowledges his mistake, he was not the ring leader and may not have fully understood the seriousness of his involvement. White even suggested Roth may not have really known what he was transporting, but was "willfully blind."
"He's a mule, your honour."
Crown prosecutor Jeremy DeBow told court Roth was caught with nine ounces of heroin worth about $100,000. And while he recommended a prison sentence of 4 1/2 years, he suggested the accused deserves credit for the time he's spent waiting for the case to be resolved.
Roth and two other men were returning from B.C. and arrested at a service station near Okotoks. A police special operations unit out of Lethbridge seized the heroin, drug paraphernalia and numerous cellphones from the vehicle in which the three men were travelling.