Corrections’ officer sentenced for drug trafficking

For the first time in B.C. history, a provincial corrections’ officer has been convicted of drug trafficking while on duty.

Roger Moore, a 35-year-old guard with seven years experience, was sentenced Friday to four years in jail in connection with an incident in 2006 in which he smuggled steroids, pot and ecstasy into the North Fraser Pretrial Centre – the largest such facility in the province – for sale to inmates.

“Mr. Moore’s actions stand in stark contrast to the professionalism displayed by our corrections’ officers every day,” Marnie Mayhew, a spokeswoman for B.C. Corrections said in an interview. “This case represents the isolated actions of one individual.”

Mr. Moore, who was convicted in February after a judge-only hearing in B.C. Supreme Court, smuggled $30,000 worth of pot, steroids, ecstasy and tobacco into the facility for sale to inmates. Video surveillance helped crack the case.

His motives were linked to dissatisfaction at work, and a divorce after five years of marriage that left him in a shaky emotional state. “I accept he was not in a healthy frame of mind and frustrated with his life at the time of his offence,” Mr. Justice Neil Brown told the court Friday, recalling evidence heard during the trial.

Mr. Justice Brown, commenting on sentencing, cited evidence from the corrections department on the harm that illegal drugs cause in prison, including violence and the overdose deaths of five inmates between 2004 and 2008.

As Mr. Moore looked on glumly from the prisoners’ dock, Mr. Justice Brown said he was intent on balancing the need for deterrence with a sentence that would not “crush [Mr. Moore’s] spirit,” but allow him to rebuild his life after paying a debt to society.

“However blameworthy Mr. Moore’s actions, they need not define him for his life,” he told the court.

Still, he said that Mr. Moore “has a debt to discharge” to society before looking toward rebuilding his life.

The Crown was seeking a five-year sentence, and the defence three years.

Because of the length of his sentence, Mr. Moore will serve his time in a federal facility. Asked about the risks of a former jail guard being a prisoner, defence lawyer Michael Ritzker said, “It goes without saying.”

He described the case as “very tragic,” and said it is too soon to comment on the possibility of an appeal. However, he praised the ruling as “thorough, well thought out and well expressed.

“My advice to my client was not to look at the past, but to look ahead and concentrate on the future,” he told reporters after the sentencing hearing.


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