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Man with 'terrifying-looking' weapon guilty of 10 charges

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An Edmonton drug dealer busted in Fort Providence with a significant amount of cocaine and a loaded semi-automatic rifle – a “terrifying-looking weapon” – should go to prison for seven years, a Crown prosecutor believes.

The fact that Cassius Zane Paradis was on a 10-year firearms prohibition for a weapons offence in January 2017, in Alberta, should be considered an aggravating factor for the judge to consider, Morgan Fane said in a sentencing hearing on Thursday in Yellowknife.

Paradis, now 30, had driven to Fort Providence in October 2018 and was cruising through the community with a 15-year-old male youth when he was pulled over by RCMP.

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Police discovered a cache of weapons, cocaine, a client “scoresheet,” and cash – much of it in a safe in the trunk of the Volkswagen.

Paradis was convicted of 12 drug and weapons-related offences after a short trial, but will be sentenced on only 10 owing to rules judges must follow regarding multiple convictions.

“The mixture of drugs and firearms is a toxic combination,” Fane said. “The firearm was clearly intended to enforce [the] drug enterprise.

“Mr Paradis is clearly involved in front-line dealing.”

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Seized were:

  • approximately 130 grams of cocaine;
  • $4,000 in cash;
  • an AR-15 style rifle without a serial number;
  • extra gun parts;
  • ammunition;
  • a full 40-round clip;
  • a knife with a 15-centimetre blade;
  • a safe; and
  • clothing.

However, defence lawyer Benjamin Lotery argued his client should face no more than three years behind bars, which would be reduced by nine months of pre-trial credit.

Lotery cited several reasons for having such a different view on the total sentence, including the fact the rifle wasn’t in operating condition. It was jammed with an extra spring in the mechanism.

Lotery acknowledged the weapon could have been made to fire in a matter of minutes by someone with knowledge of its operation, but, he said, Paradis doesn’t have that skill. 

The court ruled earlier this year that RCMP had violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when they pulled Paradis over on October 20, 2018.

Justice Shannon Smallwood ruled officers did not have enough evidence to justify stopping the vehicle, which was based on a complaint from the public about a drug dealer being in the community, the CBC reported.

Smallwood said because the stop was unlawful, so was the detention of Paradis.

However, as the CBC reported, while the fact officers didn’t immediately tell Paradis they were conducting a drug investigation – and their failure to inform him of his right to talk to a lawyer – were “significant” breaches of his charter rights, they were “not at the most serious end of the scale.”

She allowed the evidence seized from the car to be admitted.

On Thursday, Lotery argued a seven-year sentence was in the range handed out in manslaughter cases.

Lotery noted his client is non-status Métis, has a Grade 11 education, and works as a scaffolder. He is engaged to a woman in Edmonton. He struggles with addiction to alcohol, cocaine and prescription drugs.

Smallwood reserved her decision on sentencing until May 24 at 9am.

The 15-year-old young offender found in the car with Paradis several months ago pleaded guilty to a drug charge.

Little is known of the youth, or how he came to be in the car with Paradis.


Amendment: May 9, 2019 – 16:38 MT. This article initially described the weapon pictured as an assault rifle. While it shares many of the characteristics of assault rifles, there are conflicting opinions regarding AR-15 rifles and those in their style and whether they can be termed assault rifles. There is an argument that as AR-15s are not capable of selective fire, they do not meet the common definition of an assault rifle. However, the guns were defined as assault weapons in legislation enacting the United States' federal assault weapon ban from 1994 to 2004. Given the lack of a clearly agreed definition, this article's description of the weapon has been amended.