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B.C. court upholds three-year drug trafficking sentence

In October 2020, Amber Holly Kristeen Bridgen was convicted on four counts of possession of illegal drugs for the purpose of trafficking.
Amber Holly Kristeen Bridgen was 40 at time of sentencing, unmarried and had no criminal record.

B.C.’s Court of Appeal has rejected the case of a woman sentenced to three years in prison for possession of drugs for trafficking.

“The facts found by the court in assessing the moral blameworthiness of the appellant in 'reloading' street‑level sellers with fentanyl and cocaine justified the conclusion that three years’ imprisonment was a proportionate sentence for this offender,” Justice Mary Newbury wrote in the June 8 unanimous decision of the three-judge panel.

Amber Holly Kristeen Bridgen was convicted in B.C. Supreme Court in October 2020 on four counts of possession of illegal drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

The drugs involved were methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl, Newbury said.

Newbury said police located in a residence 54.2 grams of fentanyl, 28.35 grams of methamphetamine, 18.18 grams of cocaine, and 2.78 grams of a mixture of fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.

As well, she said, police found $7,695 in Canadian currency, $184 in American currency, score sheets and drug ledgers, packaging equipment for drugs, numerous cellphones and scales.

The judge noted the score sheets indicated the trafficking had been going on for more than a year and involved significant volumes of controlled substances. Police estimated the street value of drugs seized at $12,000 to $15,000.

Newbury said Bridgen was 40 at time of sentencing, unmarried and had no criminal record.

The sentencing court heard Bridgen had a difficult upbringing and gradual introduction into the drug culture. Her parents split up at an early age and her family life, following her mother's re partnering, was marred by abuse, the court heard.

She almost completed a university degree and had a background as an entrepreneur, managing several Booster Juice locations before joining a casino as a manager/bookkeeper.

Then, she became involved with a man who gambled away their joint savings and was in an automobile accident. The accident resulted in her taking pain medication, ultimately leading to her addiction.

Soon, she became involved with another man who actively got her involved in taking hard drugs, both as a user and seller.

On appeal, Bridgen asserted the sentencing judge failed to give sufficient weight to the time between the offence and the sentencing date and the principle of rehabilitation; misapprehended the evidence in concluding she was not an “exceptional offender”; and erred by finding that exceptional circumstances were required to divert from a sentence range.

Newbury said the sentencing judge had not erred on the sentencing range available and had taken Bridgen’s personal circumstances into account.

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