Despite ruling that Thomas Borecky, 44, was an "integral" part of a mid-level drug dealing operation, a Supreme Court justice has spared the Chilliwack man a decade-long prison term.
Last February, Mounties responded to a report of shots fired at a Patterson Road home to find Borecky hiding in bushes beside the house. Borecky fled, but was soon caught. Police quickly discovered a drug packaging operation in the home's basement and two bags containing drugs and guns in a bush near where Borecky was spotted.
Joyce convicted Borecky earlier this year of three drug trafficking charges and 13 gun offences.
Crown counsel Sharon Steele sought a 12-year jail sentence for Borecky, who has a long criminal record that includes convictions for dangerous driving causing death and multiple property and drug crimes.
Defence counsel Ken Beatch argued for a three-year jail term- the shortest possible because two of Borecky's convictions require three-year mandatory minimum sentences.
While Steele argued that Borecky was a "mid-level" drug trafficker who supplied street-level dealers with cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, Beatch said his client was just a fall guy.
At a sentencing hearing this spring, Beatch called Allen Soderstrom to testify. Soderstrom, who was not charged in the case, told the court that he and a man named "Dwayne" were the ringleaders of the operation. He said they had asked Borecky to live in the house, but that he was not substantially involved in the drug trade.
But Steele poked holes in Soderstrom's testimony, noting that he was unable to explain key parts of the operation, including the system by which drugs were packaged and the combination to a safe in the home's basement.
On Friday, Joyce handed down his sentence. He said that while others may have played a role, Borecky was also clearly involved in a significant drug dealing operation.
He sentenced Borecky to three years in jail on the drug charges and four years in jail for the gun offences.
"Firearms offences are very serious offences that strike at the heart and the safety of our community," he said.
But while Crown had asked for the prison terms to be conserved consecutively, Joyce ruled that the possession of both the drugs and the guns were part of the same crime.
"I am satisfied that the very purpose for which the firearms were possessed was to provide weapons of defence in relation to the illegal drug operation," Joyce said. However, he ruled a one-year sentence for possessing a gun while being prohibited by the court from doing so (because of a previous crime) must be served after Borecky finishes the first four-year sentence.
Having already spent 17 months in jail awaiting trial, Borecky is left with a remaining prison sentence of three years, seven months.
A second person arrested at the home, Tracy Yeomans, was also sentenced Friday. Yeomans-who lived in a common-law relationship with Borecky-had earlier pleaded guilty to one drug possession offence and one gun offence.
Joyce, noting that her level of moral culpability was much lower than that of Borecky, handed the 40-year-old woman consecutive nine-month sentences. But he said Yeomans didn't qualify for a conditional sentence order and must instead serve the 18 months in jail.