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Court backs 18-month sentence for drug dealer

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A Winnipeg man who ran a one-stop shop for drug addicts will not spend additional time behind bars.

Michael Murphy, 32, was sentenced last winter to 18 months in jail after being caught with cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and magic mushrooms during a 2006 police raid on his home.

Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Dewar rejected his bid for a conditional sentence, saying such a penalty would send the wrong message. But Dewar also denied the Crown’s request for a longer penitentiary sentence.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal heard arguments in the case earlier this year and ruled Monday that the original sentence should stand.

However, Justice Holly Beard did not agree with her colleagues, Justice Marc Monnin and Justice Richard Chartier, resulting in a rare 2-1 split.

Beard gave a dissenting opinion, saying she would have increased Murphy’s sentence to three years if she hadn't been overruled by the others. Beard said there is enough case precedence to suggest that 18 months is too lenient for someone "who is operating a commercial drug business, wherein he cuts and repackages cocaine and sells at the street level for profit."

Monnin and Chartier both said there was no reason to question Dewar’s discretion and alter his sentence.

Murphy had no criminal record at the time of his arrest and was selling drugs to boost his financial bottom line, court was told. Unlike many other dealers, Murphy didn't battle any addictions of his own. Police, acting on a tip, executed a search warrant and located about $9,000 worth of drugs. They also found more than $12,000 cash, which had come from previous drug sales.

Murphy fought the case at trial, claiming police didn’t have legal grounds to search his residence and the evidence they collected should be dismissed. But Dewar ruled no errors were made and the case would proceed.

Murphy will also be placed on supervised probation following his release from custody.

www.mikeoncrime.com

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