A Kamloops cocaine dealer who spent years on the lam before being arrested two years ago in Edmonton won’t serve jail time, a B.C. Supreme Court justice has decided.
Justice Len Marchand handed Daniel Colligan a two-year conditional sentence order that will see him placed under house arrest for the first year and under a curfew for the second year — but he will be able to leave his house for work and medical reasons. He will also need to complete 80 hours of community service.
In 2011, Colligan was charged with three counts of drug trafficking in Kamloops, but failed to show up for his trial in October of 2013.
He remained at large until his arrest in Edmonton in December of 2018. He was returned to Kamloops, where he pleaded guilty to his crimes and released on bail.
Court heard Colligan, who is now 34, turned his life around while on the run — presenting a challenge to impose a sentence discouraging other offenders from fleeing, while at the same time supporting Colligan’s rehabilitation, Marchand noted in his reasons for judgement.
Marchand opted for a two-year conditional sentence order less a day, stating it will adequately address denunciation and deterrence, particularly in view of Colligan’s reduced level of moral blameworthiness, given his Métis heritage.
Marchand found denunciation and deterrence could be adequately addressed in this case without resorting to institutional incarceration and jeopardizing Colligan’s progress to better his life and that of his Indigenous family.
The Crown asked for a two-year prison sentence, less credit for the 11 days Colligan served in custody, while the defence asked for a two-year conditional sentence order.
In December of 2010, police learned from an informant that Colligan was trafficking drugs through a dial-a-dope operation. In February of 2011, Colligan sold crack cocaine to undercover officers during three evening meetings in Kamloops and was later arrested.
Court heard Colligan had an abusive childhood and was in foster care from age eight to 18, when he aged out. By age 19, he began using crystal meth and went on to have two sons, with whom he has no contact.
In 2012, Colligan met his current girlfriend and moved to Edmonton. Court heard he was sick of his drug-addicted lifestyle and being in and out of jail and that he severed his “negative associations” in the process of moving to Alberta.
By this time, Colligan had seven youth and 15 adult convictions.
While in Edmonton, Colligan began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and found employment in the oil industry. As of the sentencing hearing, he was working as a well site supervisor with a production testing company and had an annual income of $180,000.
Colligan has two children with his girlfriend and said he wants to make a better life for his family.
Reports of his changed lifestyle were supported by a number of letters submitted to court.
Aggravating factors were Colligan’s lengthy record, which included prior drug trafficking convictions, and the fact he evaded justice for almost six years. Prompt guilty pleas when caught and turning his life around were mitigating factors, Marchand found.
Marchand also noted Canada’s assimilation policies have had a negative effect on Colligan and his family and, as a result, Colligan developed a drug addiction that led directly to his past criminal lifestyle, which reduced his level of moral blameworthiness.
Marchand determined Colligan serving his sentence in the community wouldn’t pose a danger to the public as he has left his substance use and negative peer group behind and has the support of friends and family.