Alleged gangster fined $750 for drug possession

Nearly five years after he was sent home to Ontario on a Con Air flight, an alleged gang member has again been banished from B.C.

Steven Phillip King, 40, was convicted Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton of a single count of drug possession and ordered to pay a $750 fine.

He was also sentenced to one year of probation, a key condition of which forbids him from entering the province during the term.

Vancouver police alleged in 2008 that King was the founder of the Game Tight Soldiers, a street gang active in that city’s Downtown Eastside and later in Prince George. He was sent back to Ontario in April of that year by police to face charges in that province.

King declined comment following sentencing Friday, but his lawyer brushed off questions about his client’s involvement with the gang.

“That’s what the police say. Gossip. Innuendo,” said James Pennington, who also side-stepped questions about the gang’s current status.

“I don’t have a clue. There is no gangs in Penticton,” he said.

Pennington said his client now resides in Ontario, but lived in Penticton off and on for several years and still has family here.

King is allowed to stay and visit for one week before his probation begins and he returns to Ontario, where he “is trying to be a law-abiding, respectful citizen of Canada,” his lawyer added.

Pennington said King was “relieved” by the verdict, “but it goes to show that that’s the reason why we have judges and trials.”

Originally charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, King was instead convicted by Justice Susan Griffin of the lesser offence of simple possession.

Court heard during trial this week that police executed a search warrant at King’s rental townhouse on Maple Street in Penticton in June 2010 and discovered 6.7 grams of crack cocaine, packaged into eight spitballs, hidden in the armrest of a couch on which he was seated.

In her reasons for judgement, Griffin said she heard evidence that other known drug users and dealers frequented the home and that King forbid anyone from bringing drugs into the residence.

But “it is not rational to think that a visitor to Mr King’s residence, unbeknownst to him, would store eight pieces of crack cocaine wrapped professionally in individual pieces in a baggy in the sleeve of his couch,” Griffin said.

“I find that the only rational explanation for the cocaine being in the couch, given Mr. King had control of the residence, is that Mr. King knew it was there,” she concluded.

Griffin did, however, have a reasonable doubt about whether the drugs were for personal use or trafficking. She gave no weight to testimony from a police drug expert who suggested others items discovered at the home, like scales and alleged scoresheets, were evidence of trafficking.

“The evidence is also capable of supporting the conclusion that this particular quantity and package could have been for Mr. King’s own consumption,” Griffin said.

King apologized to the court prior to sentencing.

“I’m sorry to waste the court’s time with this matter,” he said.

The judge gave King six months to pay his fine, and ordered that $450 seized upon his arrest be put towards the penalty.



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