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Conviction, sentence upheld on appeal in heroin trafficking case

Following package seizure in December 2015, Barrie police organized 'controlled delivery' to investigate and apprehend those involved with shipment from Cameroon
heroin needle stock
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The appeal of a conviction on drug charges has been denied to a man after heroin was shipped to Barrie from Cameroon in late 2015.

Chibuzo Umeadi was convicted in August 2018 of importing heroin, possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000. He sentenced to 12 years in prison in October 2018.

Court documents show on Dec. 22, 2015, the Canada Border Services Agency intercepted a package that had been shipped from Cameroon. It was addressed to an ‘M. Shelia’ and was to be delivered to Box 152 at a Pak Mail location in Barrie. The package contained 518.83 grams of heroin.

As a result of the seizure, Barrie police organized a "controlled delivery" of the package to investigate and apprehend those involved with the shipment. 

On Dec. 30, 2015, the package was ready to be picked up from the Pak Mail location. Using a camera, city police placed the store under surveillance, with an undercover officer posing as a trainee employee working at the front counter with the store manager.

Umeadi went to the store that afternoon, but did not retrieve the package. Instead, he went to a house on Versailles Crescent, near Big Bay Point Road and Prince William Way in the city's south end, where he had been staying. A few hours later, he returned to Pak Mail and retrieved the package.

Shortly after he left the store, police attempted to arrest Umeadi, but he dropped the package and fled. Officers eventually caught up to Umeadi and arrested him while retrieving the package, which had been opened.

A search warrant at the Versailles Crescent house turned up, in his bedroom, $39,650 in a white paper bag, coloured ribbons and cloth-like material of the same type found inside the intercepted package, a working digital scale, a cellphone, three driver’s licences bearing Umeadi’s name and date of birth, along with tax and bank documents also bearing his name.

On Jan. 5, 2016, a second package containing about a kilogram of heroin also arrived for Box 152, addressed to a Yulia Petesh. This package was also seized by police. Umeadi was in custody at the time.

As a result of the two packages being seized, Umeadi was charged with four offences. The charge relating to possession of the second package of heroin was withdrawn by the Crown.

Umeadi was tried by a judge sitting with a jury and was convicted of all three counts – importing heroin, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of proceeds of crime – and sentenced to 12 years.

Umeadi appealed the conviction, saying the trial judge erred in part by refusing to order a mistrial because of the non-disclosure of potential alternate suspects, and that his sentence of 12 years imprisonment was unfit because of the trial judge’s error in imposing consecutive sentences for the offences. He sought a reduction of the sentence to eight years.

The appeals were dismissed.

The Crown said that a fit sentence would be in the 10- to 12-year range given the seriousness, quantity and potential street value of the drugs involved, which was pegged at more than $180,000.

Defence counsel said a sentence of six to eight years would be appropriate, and sought credit for time served prior to trial and sentencing, as well as the 40 months of house arrest.

The trial judge considered the existence of mitigating factors: Umeadi had no criminal record, maintained employment since arriving in Canada and is married. He also considered the aggravating factors, namely that Umeadi is not a young offender and the crime seemed to have been motivated by greed since there was no evidence of Umeadi having any addiction issues.

The trial judge determined that a substantial penitentiary term is often warranted for offences involving heroin. He concluded that a sentence of 12 years was appropriate – comprised of eight years for importing heroin; four years for possessing heroin for the purpose of trafficking, to be served consecutively with the importing sentence, and one year for possessing proceeds of crime over $5,000, to be served concurrently with the importing sentence.

After accounting for 440 days of credit, the remaining time to be served was 10 years, nine months and 15 days.

The appeal was heard, and dismissed, in June 2022 from the convictions entered by Justice Gregory M. Mulligan of the Superior Court of Justice in 2018.