An ailing 72-year-old man who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges won’t go to jail despite the amount of cocaine seized as well as his criminal record.
Judge Hope Hyslop gave Robert Ehlert a suspended sentence Tuesday, saying “I see no need to separate Mr. Ehlert from society by sending him to jail.”
Crown prosecutor Anthony Varesi asked for 10 months jail for Ehlert, who, along with Richard Maki, twice sold cocaine to undercover RCMP. Police raided the Lee Creek home and found $2,000 worth of cocaine, a quarter-pound of marijuana, scales and score sheets indicating a record of purchases.
Ehlert’s sporadic and dated criminal record dates to 1972, when he was charged in relation to a bookmaking scheme. His record also includes assault and other drug charges.
Hyslop called it “astonishing” that a 72-year-old man, who is a father and grandfather, would be involved in drug trafficking. But she said a jail sentence is not necessary for a man whose maladies include severe depression, heart and thyroid problems and prostate cancer in remission.
Varesi argued Ehlert’s medical conditions could be cared for while in jail.
“I see no need to put Mr. Ehlert in jail at 72, with serious health problems,” Hyslop said.
As part of the suspended sentence, Hyslop gave a 14-month probation with strict conditions amounting to house arrest.
Normally house arrest is given through a conditional sentence, but the Conservative government took away that option for judges in serious drug trafficking offences.
To achieve the same effect, Hyslop gave the lesser suspended sentence but with a probation period that resembles a conditional sentence.
Conditions of his 14-month probation include that he reside at an approved residence and not leave home, except for brief personal business or work, for the first eight months. For the remaining six months he is under a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Ehlert is also banned from consuming drugs or alcohol during the probation and is subject to a 10-year firearm ban.