Lewis George Hedley Sooley of Carbonear was sentenced to two years and one day in prison Thursday morning. The 25-year-old entered guilty pleas a day earlier to 12 charges that include conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, counseling an indictable offence, possession of a controlled drug or substance, driving while disqualified, failure to attend court and failure to comply with court orders.
The most serious charge involved conspiring to traffic a prescription opioid — hydromorphone. According to the agreed statement of facts, the drugs were meant for the mother of Emily Marie Williams of Cavendish. She is also charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and counseling an indictable offence. Her case is back in court Aug. 23 for election and plea.
The facts read in court Wednesday said Sooley served as a middleman to connect Williams with another person to sell the drugs. Her mother would typically receive 126 one-millimetre vials of hydromorphone per week. It was Williams who picked up her mother's drugs at Welsh's Pharmacy in Heart's Delight. The rubber seals on the bottle were broken and resealed with water to dilute the hydromorphone Williams' mother used.
An officer from the Harbour Grace RCMP detachment interviewed Williams' mother last December and determined she was unaware of the arrangement and thought she was receiving her full medication. Williams was arrested the same day and in a caution statement to police, admitted to her involvement in the year-long plot. She received anywhere from $1,000 to $2,700 depending on the number of vials provided.
Sooley was also arrested around this time and initially claimed he was innocent. However, he provided a new caution statement to police last month, stating Williams approached him as a middleman to set up the deal. Sooley said there was only one instance where he received vials and brought them to a third party. He thought the medication sold was excess and was unaware of water being used to dilute it.
Sooley had a prior conviction from the fall of 2010 for trafficking. Federal Crown prosecutor Don Anthony acknowledged Sooley didn't realize the full scope of what was happening, but said that should not diminish his level of guilt.
"There was a terminally ill woman who wasn't getting (full) treatment," Anthony said.
Defence lawyer Kevin Baker said Sooley felt remorse for his actions and was prepared to accept responsibility for them. He had told Baker about his serious addictions issues (the possession charges involved cocaine and oxycodone). Sooley now hopes a federal sentence can clean him up for a fresh start upon release.
Judge Bruce Short accepted Sooley might not have known all that was going on. However, he also reckoned with Sooley's background, he could have come to some educated conclusions about what was going on.
"You can't effectively turn a blind eye to what may be happening," he said, going on to point out those drugs never should have made it to the street.
"Mr. Sooley, you must realize a lot of the decisions you have made have affected people in a very negative way," the judge added.
Short also made note of Sooley's young age and said there are still opportunities in the world for him. However, the judge cautioned that if he were to stay involved in drugs, Sooley would run out of options.
Upon his release, Sooley will be subject to a weapons prohibition order and a four-year driving prohibition order.