Lake Country man connected to Independent Soldiers sentenced for drugs, weapons charges

McWhirter sentenced for 2015 drug charges

  • Jun. 29, 2018 11:30 a.m.

By Cheryl Wierda

A former Lake Country man who was previously a member of the Independent Soldiers gang has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for drug and weapons offences.

During a nearly 90 minute sentencing decision Friday, Justice Barry Davies concluded that Donahugh McWhirter, 48, was a “low to mid level” drug dealer who had been recruiting other dealers and providing them with drugs, and that he was, at minimum, affiliated with the Independent Soldiers prior to his November 2014 arrest.

“The Crown has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that…he remained a member after November 2014,” said Davies, noting that he also did not support a finding that McWhirter’s offences were done to benefit a criminal organization.

McWhirter had been under police surveillance in the latter part of 2014 before police searched his vehicle in a traffic stop in Merritt on Nov. 4, 2014 and discovered a “large quantity” of drugs.

Police found MDMA with a street value of $130,950 and methamphetamine with a street value of $180,850, the court heard during McWhirter’s sentencing hearing on Friday.

A search of his Lake Country home in January 2015 also turned up a rifle and a shotgun, which had been vacuum-sealed.

On the eve of his trial in February, McWhirter pleaded guilty to two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and four weapons offences.

In sentencing McWhirter, Davies supported the Crown submission that McWhirter be given four years in jail for the two drug trafficking charges.

However, he diverged from the Crown’s request when considering the sentences for the four weapons offences.

He sentenced McWhirter to 12 months for the unauthorized possession of a firearm charges, to be served after the drug sentence, and gave him another six months for two counts of possession of a firearm contrary to an order. (McWhirter had been given a firearms ban in 2012 after being sentenced on assault offences).

The three years sought by the Crown for unauthorized possession of a firearm, Davies concluded, “is not supported by the evidence or the authorities heard.”

“There is no evidence that those firearms were used in any way in that [drug] activity,” said Davies.

To link them, he said, would result “in a higher level of culpability than is warranted in the circumstance.”

As well, the guns, although operational, were not readily available, he noted.

McWhirter sat quietly in the prisoner’s box for the duration of the hearing and then waved at his supporters as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

In addition to the prison term, McWhirter is banned from possessing firearms for life and must pay a victim fine surcharge. If he is unable to pay, he will be sentenced to one day in jail, to be served concurrently with his drug and weapons sentence, the court heard.

McWhirter’s girlfriend, Brittany Stinn, had also been facing charges in the case, but on Monday Crown confirmed they were halting prosecution by entering a stay of proceedings.

—with files from Cheryl Wierda

A Lake Country man once described by Mounties as a senior member of the Independent Soldiers was sentenced Friday to five and a half years in prison.

Donahugh McWhirter, 48, will serve four years in prison for drug charges and another year and a half for various weapons charges.

He was arrested with his girlfriend Brittany Stinn, in Kelowna Jan. 29, 2015 and pleaded guilty in January.

Crown counsel Perbeen Mann said she wasseeking a global sentence of eight years for possession of methamphetamine and MDMA for the purpose of trafficking, along with unlawful possession of a shotgun and rifle.

Mann told the court in sentencing submissions Monday that McWhirter was being watched by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. for the better part of a year when he was arrested with a significant cache of drugs that led to the discovery of firearms and a lot of Independent Solider swag.

On the month of his arrest, they’d watched McWhirter and Stinn go to an address in Maple Ridge belonging to a person believed to be have criminal ties for the fifth time in a short period.

READ MORE: JUDGE RULES ARREST WAS LAWFUL

On a traffic violation, they stopped McWhirter and searched the vehicle.

In the trunk of his Audi, tucked in the back in a Walmart bag, was a bag of powder methamphetamine, a bag of powder MDMA, a bag of yellow pills that weren’t identified and a bag of MDMA pills.

The style and volume of drugs, said Mann, is typical for a mid-level drug dealer who provides product to street level dealers.

The MDMA had a bulk value of $68,000 and a street value of $138,000. The meth had a bulk value of $180,850 and a street value of $840,200.

Once they seized the drugs, Mounties went to McWhirter’s house to see what was there.

There they found a significant supply of Independent Solider paraphernalia, such as hats and hoodies. At the time of his arrest, Mounties said McWhirter was a senior member of the criminal organization that was in the throes of recruiting new members. He claims that he had long since left the organization.

Police also found a bag of firearms with no trigger lock, ammunition, shells, a crossbow and a sword.

There were 16 mobile phones and several score sheets around. Score sheets are how drug dealers keep their books. There were also vials of steroids and ziplock bags. Not all these items are on the indictment.

The pair have been out of custody and on bail since their arrest.

More to come…

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaNewsKat
kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lake Country brain injury rehab community celebrates 10 years

CONNECT recognized staff and residents at an anniversary celebration June 21

Kootnekoff: WCB review wants your comments

Filed a Workers’ Compensation Board claim within the past 15 years?

One woman “shaken up” after minor collision on Hwy 97

Officials say the road should be cleared sooner rather than later

City of Kelowna pens deal with e-scooter share company

Spin, a U.S.-based company, will make its international debut with 400 scooters in Kelowna

Protesters rally in Victoria over newly approved Trans Mountain pipeline

The Still No Consent! No Trans Mountain! 20 kilometre march will end at Island View Beach

Two mudslides close Seymour Arm road in North Shuswap, no one injured

Slides hit Seymour Arm Main Forest Service Road halfway between St. Ives and Seymour Arm

“Our community has had its heart broken”: South Okanagan celebrates life of David Kampe

Community and families members who knew Kampe give tearful addresses

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

Lower lake levels could create bumper crop of invasive milfoil

The CSRD board received an update on efforts to suppress the invasive aquatic plant

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Vernon and Sicamous cannabis stores get provincial nod

Spiritleaf in Vernon will be the Okanagan’s first cannabis store.

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Most Read