Mitchell John Millar wasn’t caught with drugs but found with a phone containing text messages to set up a drug deal.
He was among several people arrested for drug trafficking in April 2012 and had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge.
In Summerside provincial court on Monday, Judge Jeff Lantz sentenced Millar to what he called “a fairly consistent” jail term for a first-time offender.
Lantz called Millar a street-level dealer.
“You don’t see a lot of the other people higher up the ladder,” admitted Lantz, who noted it’s those individuals who must be caught and prosecuted.
That was something that Millar’s lawyer, Trish Cheverie, touched on in pleading for a lesser sentence for her client.
“The war on drugs is not getting us anywhere,” said Cheverie. “Most of the people in here are street-level traffickers with addictions.
That, she said, was the case with Millar, who, at age 23, has been struggling with drug addiction for eight years.
Cheverie argued that Millar had not been in possession of drugs but was arranging for the sale of Dilaudid, a sale, she added, that didn’t go through. She said when Millar was questioned by police he admitted to his role in the trafficking ring and gave police the evidence they needed to get a conviction.
That is why Cheverie said her client should be sentenced to less than the standard eight to 12 months behind bars.
She noted that Millar has been clean since September and in the past has taken steps to beat his addiction.
Cheverie and Lantz noted that Millar, while behind bars, would be able to take advantage of in-house addictions treatment that has now become available in the provincial correctional facility.
Lantz touched on the seriousness of the drugs involved in the case — hydromorphone or Dilaudid — Schedule I drugs that are highly addictive.
“Pills more so these days seem to be the problem,” noted the judge.
But, he added, showing leniency in this case would not act as a deterrent.
“I shudder to think where we might be if we go any easier on the people that are before the courts in these situations,” said Lantz. “I’m not sure anything would stop them,” when they need their fix.
The judge noted that Millar “should consider who his friends are” if he wants to stay out of trouble and get clean.
Once his eight-month sentence is served, Millar will be on probation for 24 months, during which time he must undergo assessment, counselling and treatment for any addictions issues and will be prohibited for 10 years from owning or possessing any weapons or ammunition.
Millar is not allowed to have any contact with the three co-accused in the case. He was also ordered to provide a DNA sample and to pay a $100 victim surcharge.