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Former honours student 'ashamed' by drug role

Oct 14 2012

A former honours student, athlete and pilot told his sentencing hearing in B.C. Supreme Court that he was ashamed, embarrassed and full of regret for the harm his drug-trafficking had caused the community and families in Victoria.

Jarrod Francis Nicol, 36, was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to trafficking cocaine in September 2008.

Nicol broke down twice as he tried to read an apology to the court. In the end, Nicol was unable to continue, and defence lawyer Joe Doyle read his written statement into the record.

Nicol, who has been in custody for three years, wrote that he had only seen his four-year-old son a handful of times because he did not want him to grow up with the idea that it was OK to have a father in prison.

"It's not OK. It is painful for me to realize I have been a bad influence on my own son. Never again," Nicol wrote. "It clearly breaks my heart and fills me with immense shame when I know I may have contributed to other innocent children in the community having their lives disrupted and turned upside down."

Nicol came to the attention of police investigating large-scale cocaine traffickers on Vancouver Island. Officers intercepted BlackBerry messages between Jason Conrad and Nicol from Sept. 19-28, 2008. They learned Conrad intended to buy five kilograms of cocaine from Nicol for $215,000.

On Sept. 27, Conrad was seen leaving his hotel room with a gym bag. He went to Nicol's home, met Nicol at the front door and left without the gym bag.

Nicol put the gym bag and another bag in his car and went to the home of Asif Khan, his co-accused. The men travelled in separate cars to Vancouver and were kept under surveillance by police.

On Sept. 28, police stopped Khan and Nicol after they drove off the ferry in Swartz Bay. Both were arrested. A search of Nicol's vehicle turned up $930 in cash and an overnight bag containing $5,250 in cash. Nine one-kilogram bricks of cocaine, marked and stamped with brand names Conrad and Nicol had mentioned in their BlackBerry messages, were found in Khan's vehicle.

Nicol was released on bail, but his bail was revoked after he was arrested for further drug offences on Sept. 30, 2009.

Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge considered Nicol's previous convictions in 2001 for trafficking cocaine and the production of marijuana to be aggravating circumstances. Nicol was sentenced to two years less a day for these offences in 2004.

Nicol was also convicted earlier this year of possessing heroin and cocaine for the purpose of trafficking in 2009.

These aggravating factors suggest Nicol is not deterred by the justice system, Wedge said.

The judge considered the mitigating factors to be Nicol's guilty plea in May 2012 and the strong support of his parents, grandmother, sister and brother who have been present during the sentencing hearing. He has also lost three years of being a parent to his son, she noted.

Nicol was an honour student, an excellent athlete who played soccer and baseball and earned his commercial pilot's licence and welding ticket. He is qualified to work as an aircraft technician, Wedge said.

"What gives me pause is he was 28 when he was sentenced to two years less a day for his 2001 offence. Yet in 2008, he went back to trafficking cocaine. From the BlackBerry messages, I infer he was deeply involved in it," the judge said.

In the end, she concluded there was a reasonable prospect Nicol could turn his life around.

Wedge gave Nicol credit on a two-for-one basis for the three years he has spent in custody. This means he has essentially served his five-year sentence and will have six months and 10 days credit to put toward his 2009 offences. He will remain in custody for those offences until his sentencing.

Wedge ordered Nicol to provide a sample of his DNA and imposed a lifetime weapons' prohibition.

His co-accused Conrad was sentenced to five years for the same offence in May 2012.

Khan has pleaded not guilty. His trial is still before the courts.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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