Surrey drug trafficker loses appeal of his sentence

Malakias Swales's appeal to have his 15-year prison term reduced to eight years is rejected by the appeal court

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A Surrey drug trafficker’s appeal to have his 15-year-prison sentence reduced to eight years has failed.

Surrey provincial court Judge Peder Gulbransen convicted Malakias Gerald Swales in 2012 of 24 crimes that were committed in 2006. Swales challenged the sentence as unfit after the Appeal Court of B.C. in Vancouver dismissed an appeal of his convictions.

Swales was imprisoned on drugs and weapons-related offences as well as failing to stop for a peace officer.

The appeal court heard Swales led police on a chase reaching up to 120 km/h after he left an apartment building with a tote bag containing four one-kilogram bricks of cocaine worth about $120,000 and tossed it into a pickup truck.

Police abandoned the pursuit and Swales turned himself in months later, after charges were laid.

Armed with a search warrant, Surrey Mounties found the apartment to be a “stash site” for a “drug trafficking business,” Appeal Court Justice David Frankel said.

The court heard no one lived at the apartment where police found, inside a locked safe, 19 one-kilogram bricks of cocaine, 108 grams of crack cocaine, 1,956 grams of methamphetamine, 2,394 ecstasy pills, seven restricted handguns, five prohibited handguns, six silencers, ammo in magazines, boxes and Ziploc bags, and $279,000 in cash. Police also found a prohibited handgun, six restricted handguns, two silencers and ammo under a couch.

The cocaine seized from the apartment was worth about $650,000 and the meth, crack cocaine and ecstasy was worth about $66,000.

During the Surrey trial the Crown sought an aggregate sentence of 22 years, reduced to 17 and the defence argued for a sentence of eight to nine years.

Gulbransen found Swales’ moral culpability was “very high” and that he had committed “three sets of distinct sentences which would normally require the court to impose consecutive sentences,” namely drug-related crimes, weapons-related crimes and failing to stop for police.

Frankel decided that Gulbransen didn’t err by making the sentences for weapons offences consecutive to the drug offences, and his appeal court colleagues Justices David Harris and Gregory Fitch agreed.

“To accede to Mr. Swales’ argument that eight years is an appropriate sentence for all of the offences of which he was convicted would be, in effect, to impose no punishment for many of those offences,” Frankel decided.

“Although the sentencing judge could have imposed a shorter sentence, I cannot say that fifteen years’ imprisonment is demonstrably unfit given Mr. Swales’s conduct, degree of responsibility and personal circumstances.”

Surrey Now