A Falkland man who pleaded guilty to selling cocaine and marijuana, the latter to an undercover police officer, said he got involved in the illicit activity to cover soaring medical costs for two of his children, both of whom have cystic fibrosis.
Shawn Carlisle, 49, was one of three men arrested in 2022 in connection with a years-long RCMP investigation into a biker gang in Kamloops, a Hells Angels support club known as the Throttle Lockers. Charges were laid against Carlisle and two others — Zale Coty, 53, and Jacob Cavanaugh, 29, of Kamloops.
On Nov. 10, 2022, Carlisle pleaded guilty to the above two charges.
On Tuesday (Feb. 7) in Kamloops Law Courts, Carlisle was sentenced by Judge Marianne Ruth Armstrong to 30 months in prison for the cocaine trafficking charge, with a concurrent 12-month sentence added for the marijuana trafficking count.
The sentence was part of a joint submission from defence lawyer John Gustafson and Crown counsel Devin Singhal.
Gustafson told court the monthly cost of cystic fibrosis medication is $25,000 per child.
“I acknowledge the harm I have caused to my community and I apologize for that. I never did any of this for fancy cars or big houses,” Carlisle said while reading his statement and weeping. “I simply wanted to make my children’s lives better.”
Carlisle and his wife of 22 years have three children, ages 19, 16 and 13. He said the two eldest children suffer from cystic fibrosis and require ongoing financial support for medications to improve their quality of life.
Carlisle said his family went into debt with several trips to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and he lost benefits from his longtime employer after the cystic fibrosis diagnosis in December 2012. He said the family owned a restaurant and re-mortgaged it a second time, but struggled to make ends meet amidst the wildfires and the pandemic.
Carlisle said the family tried to access private insurance, but was denied. He told court that his daughter approached him one night, crying, as she asked if she was going to die from the disease.
“It was a hard night and I didn’t see a way out,” Carlisle said as he wept. “It was all very overwhelming.”
Judge Armstrong reviewed several letters of support from Carlisle’s family and friends, noting that he appeared to be a civically minded “good man” who “worked hard” and spent plenty of time volunteering at his children’s schools.
“There is one thing that troubles me,” Armstrong said. “It is clear that Mr. Carlisle is loved by his friends and family… but these children look up to you and I feel the pressure of their eyes at this moment.”
Armstrong urged Carlisle to communicate the error of his ways with families from the community upon his rehabilitation.
“As much as your decisions were motivated by love, there is a dark side to that love as well,” Armstrong said, noting victim surcharges will be waived due to financial hardship. “I accept that your motives were to alleviate the suffering of your children… I don’t think you’re too far gone, if you don’t mind me putting it that way.”
Carlisle will be also be required to submit a sample to the national DNA crime database and will be prohibited from owning and accessing firearms for 10 years upon his release from prison.