Conditional sentence issued for marijuana grow op

A man now living in the Lower Mainland has been sentenced to a one-year conditional sentence for running a marijuana grow-op near Fraser Lake.

Crown prosecution had been seeking six months in jail for William Coady Daniels, 47, but provincial court Judge Randall Callan agreed with defence lawyer Fred Fatt that a conditional sentence was more appropriate.

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Under a conditional sentence, the person serves the time at home while still being able to go to work, but also faces such conditions as a curfew and a prohibition against using alcohol.

Daniels was arrested in November 2011 when police seized 203 marijuana plants from a barn on his farm as well 11 baggies, each containing a half pound of marijuana ready to be sold.

A .22 calibre rifle was found by the front door of Daniels' home and a .45 calibre pistol was found in a safe, both loaded, along with $10,730 in cash.

But the court also heard Daniels turned to growing marijuana after injuring his hand. Despite eight surgeries, he was unable to regain his fine motor skills and had lost his job as a marine engineer at B.C. Ferries as a result.

Moreover, Daniels' worker's compensation payment were not enough to cover his mortgage so he was also in danger of losing his farm. Following his arrest, his wife left him.

"As he told police, he became depressed and made some 'stupid decisions,'" Callan said in referencing submissions from Fatt.

Daniels has since moved and now works as a supervisor for a construction company where some 50 tradespeople report to him and he oversees a number of projects. There is a chance some of the projects would be put on hold and employees laid off if he goes to jail, Callan was told.

In deciding in favour of a conditional sentence, Callan noted Daniels has been on conditions for three-and-a-half years without committing a breach, he now lives far removed from the location of the offence, friends and his employer provided letters of reference and submissions from Fatt led him to believe Daniels chances for rehabilitation are exceptional.

The sentence was issued May 12 in Fraser Lake.

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