Accused drug dealers leave B.C. courts free men due to shortage of sheriffs

Sheriff shortage frees accused B.C. dealers

VICTORIA — A shortage of courthouse sheriffs has resulted in two accused drug dealers being freed without facing justice, sparking an uproar in British Columbia’s legislature with the Opposition New Democrats accusing the government of cost-cutting during a deadly overdose crisis.

Mike Farnworth, the NDP’s public safety critic, said Thursday it’s outrageous two men accused of cocaine and heroin trafficking did not face trial because there weren’t enough sheriffs available to protect and monitor the courtrooms.

He said the accused heroin dealer was smiling when the Victoria judge told him Wednesday he was free to leave the court. Last week, cocaine trafficking charges against a Victoria man were stayed when a sheriff was not available to be present in the courtroom.

“It sickens the public,” said Farnworth. “Can the attorney general tell this house why her government would rather see this drug dealing thug, accused drug dealing thug, walk free than ensure there are enough sheriffs in the courtrooms of British Columbia.”

He said the government has been cutting sheriff positions during the last four years, reducing the numbers from more than 500 provincewide to about 420. In Victoria, the sheriffs numbers have been cut from 35 to 21, said Farnworth.

“This government is guilty of under valuing the work of sheriffs in B.C.,” Farnworth said. “This attorney general and this government are guilty of causing the chaos in our courtrooms.”

Attorney General Suzanne Anton said there has been a shortage of sheriffs at the Victoria courthouse in the past few days due to sickness and staffing issues, but help is on the way.

She said she has an extra $2.6 million in her budget to address sheriff issues and 48 new sheriffs are currently in training classes, with 24 recruits available in May and the other 24 ready for duty in October.

“It’s our goal every single day to make sure all the courtrooms that are open and needed in British Columbia are properly resource,” said Anton.

B.C. court spokesman Bruce Cohen said the chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court plans to look into the issue.

Sheriffs are required to transport accused people to court and monitor and protect courtrooms.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Hang glider pilot rescued from Pincushion Mountain

Pilot was able to help guide rescue crews to her location

Car accident on Leckie Road backs up traffic

An accident involving a bus is blocking traffic driving near Dilworth Mountain

Top Okanagan wedding venue no longer allows wedding ceremonies

Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park and Kaloya Regional Park will no longer allow the ceremonies

Okanagan College has new entrepaneur-in-residence

Jason Richards, has been involved in a number of start-ups over his career

Kelowna Pride Society looks for community feedback

The society is already planning this year’s festivities

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of B.C. overpass

Dash cam footage shows vehicle speeding across Brunette Avenue overpass in Coquitlam

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Most Read