Appeal of sentence for North Shore fentanyl dealer tossed

The B.C. Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal of a 32-month jail term handed to a North Shore fentanyl dealer.

Colton Bram Davies, 25, of Gibsons was sentenced in May 2019 after he pleaded guilty March 31 to possessing cocaine and fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking and to possession of cocaine in June 2017, in connection with a dial-a-dope operation.

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Police first noticed Davies in early 2017, according to court documents, when the vehicle he was driving was connected to suspicious activity. In April and June 2017 he was frequently seen catching the first ferry from the Sunshine Coast and spending the day driving around the North Shore, according to court documents.

Davies was put under surveillance where he was observed leaving a stash house in North Vancouver and engaging in behaviour consistent with drug dealing. He was eventually arrested in June 2017. Cocaine and fentanyl were seized from his home, vehicle and stash house.

Following a sentencing hearing in North Vancouver provincial court, Davies was ordered to serve 16 months in prison, on top of the time he’d already spent in jail. At the time, Judge Joanne Challenger wrote the sentence was needed because “those who willingly and knowingly sell a substance with the clear potential to kill must be denounced.”

Davies appealed that sentence, arguing there was no evidence he knew he was selling fentanyl and the judge had failed to consider his efforts at rehabilitation. He asked for a reduction in his sentence.

In dismissing his appeal, a panel of three appeal court justices found that while the trial judge was mistaken in finding Davies knew he was dealing fentanyl, that wouldn’t have changed the sentence.

“The judge was entitled to find that [Davies] had a high degree of moral culpability even if he did not have actual knowledge that the trafficked drugs contained fentanyl,” wrote Justice G. Bruce Butler for the appeal court panel.

The appeal court added the judge had considered Davies’ personal circumstances, and had given him a sentence at the lowest end of what she deemed appropriate for a mid-level fentanyl dealer.  

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