A BC man found in a Finlayson Drive drug-dealing headquarters has been sentenced to 26 months for possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possessing marijuana.
Hassen Abdul Kerim Mohamed, 50, showed little reaction as Supreme Court Justice Shannon Smallwood read her decision Thursday.
The day before, by contrast, Mohamed broke down as his lawyer – Jennifer Cunningham – detailed his youth growing up in war-torn Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa.
That childhood trauma, argued Cunningham, could have resulted in his addictive personality and his downward spiral into drugs and crime.
“I’m sorry,” said the married father of two grown children through tears, as Cunningham replied, “You don’t have to be sorry … don’t be sorry about anything.”
Mohamed was arrested in a raid on the Finlayson Drive townhouse in April 2015. He was found in an upstairs bathroom with some cocaine, while the actual target of the raid, William Nelson Castro, was caught outside after he jumped through a second-floor bedroom window.
Castro later pleaded guilty to possessing fentanyl and cocaine – along with marijuana – for the purpose of trafficking, and possessing the proceeds of crime. He was sentenced to six years behind bars.
However, at trial in September, the Crown had to prove the level of engagement Mohamed had in the “relatively sophisticated” criminal enterprise, including how much of the large stash of drugs found around the townhouse – and more than $200,000 in cash found in a safe – was under his care and control.
The sentence, which means he will spend 23.5 months in prison after taking into consideration time served, was less than the three years called for by the Crown, but more than the nine months requested by the defence.
Cunningham noted at the time of his arrest, Mohamed – already fighting alcoholism and gambling problems – had become an addict who would do “any kind of drug,” and had been homeless and “a junkie downtown on Hastings,” a notorious Vancouver neighbourhood.
Since his arrest, Mohamed has completed a lengthy residential treatment program, was “able to connect” with 12-step program philosophies, and is still on opioid recovery medication.
Crown prosecutor Dwayne Praught told the court Mohamed had been on bail for drug trafficking charges in BC when he was arrested in Yellowknife.
Mohamed had a key to Castro’s townhouse and was seen “coming and going” in the latter’s Lexus.
“Given the number of vulnerable people in the North,” said Praught, “people who travel to the North to make money need to be deterred.
“The motivation here is clear: selling cocaine for profit. He was here trafficking cocaine in a relatively sophisticated set-up.”
Mohamed is also banned from owning firearms for 10 years.