Alex Louie, also known as Senk’lip, appeared in Penticton’s courthouse Thursday morning for what was supposed to be a sentencing hearing. Senk’lip may file a constitutional challenge over mandatory minimums due to his Indigenous heritage. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Gun smuggler may challenge mandatory minimum

Senk’lip, also known as Alex Louie, was found guilty of nine gun-related charges

A man convicted of smuggling guns across the border, whose trial was marked with the tribulations of self-representation, may get a lawyer after all, as constitutional issues were raised in sentencing.

Senk’lip, known officially as Alex Louie, was found guilty in October of nine gun-related charges for attempting to smuggle a pair of guns into Canada at the U.S. border on Feb. 1 this year, and was up for a sentencing hearing on Thursday.

Due to the similarity of some of the charges, Senk’lip will only be facing sentencing for five of the charges.

A potential constitutional challenge halted the process, as the court prepares to consider the constitutionality of mandatory minimums for Indigenous offenders, if a challenge is filed by Senk’lip. For gun smuggling charges, the mandatory minimum is three years.

Related: Guilty on nine counts for gun smuggling

Throughout the pretrial and trial process, Justice Arne Silverman advised Senk’lip to obtain legal counsel, a suggestion Silverman made again at the beginning of a sentencing hearing Thursday morning.

Senk’lip, again, declined to get a lawyer, declaring the Crown and court’s assumed jurisdiction over him to be “genocide.”

That type of argument was prevalent in Louie’s trial and pretrial proceedings, an argument that Silverman had originally appeared willing to hear initially.

Related: Justice to decide court’s jurisdiction over Indigenous man

Thursday, Silverman pushed back against a “nonsense question” at one point and shut down a speech from Senk’lip, who spoke of financial transactions and commercial bonds.

“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Silverman said after the approximately five-minute monologue from Senk’lip. “There’s nothing there that’s relevant to the sentencing process.”

Silverman said he would not get back into the same issues from “the time that was wasted of the five days that we spent in trial. … I would estimate that roughly half of that was Senk’lip ignoring me.”

Related: Border services and RCMP investigation at Oliver residence

It wasn’t just Senk’lip that Silverman butted heads with during the hearing Thursday. He and Crown lawyer Clarke Burnett had a lengthy back-and-forth over the a recent decision, referred to as R. v. J.L.M., which suggested an Indigenous background should be of consideration when sentencing, and could mean a sentence below the mandatory minimum.

What was largely at issue was Senk’lip’s lack of a lawyer on this matter, who could have filed a constitutional challenge to the mandatory minimum for consideration of his Indigenous heritage.

“There’s been no constitutional challenge to this section, and I say that has to happen,” Burnett said.

“Senk’lip isn’t capable of mounting a constitutional challenge. You are well aware of what a constitutional challenge means … but he’s never going to file the necessary paperwork,” Silverman countered. “I would have to indicate on his behalf that that’s an issue I want canvassed.”

Related: Justice rules B.C. courts hold jurisdiction over Indigenous man

Burnett suggested that would require an adjournment in the case, for the constitutionality of mandatory minimums for Senk’lip to be explored.

“Unless there is a constitutional challenge, your lordship doesn’t have the jurisdiction to go below the mandatory minimum,” Burnett said.

After a 20-minute back-and-forth, Burnett did ultimately convince Silverman a constitutional challenge would need to be brought forth for J.L.M. to apply for Senk’lip, because it was a constitutional challenge that took J.L.M. to the appeals court in the first place.

That led to a renewed call for Senk’lip to seek legal counsel.

Related: Lack of lawyer causes roadblocks in trial

“I’m not saying you’ll get less than a three-year sentence, even if there was no minimum,” Silverman said. “Mr. Burnett makes a good case for the proposition that I’m not permitted to consider that (J.L.M.) unless there is a formal challenge.”

Senk’lip said he would be willing to consider consulting with one of his lawyer friends to attempt to mount that constitutional challenge.

The court is set to reconvene in mid-January on the matter.


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton Vees name NHL prospect as assistant captain

The Vees kick off the Okanagan Cup tournament Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. at the SOEC

GoByBike Week is back, celebrating 10th anniversary in Penticton

Registered participants are eligible for various perks and prizes

‘Schools are healthy’: IH medical health officer

Children have a low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19

Penticton quadruple murder trial begins in Kelowna next month

John Brittain, 69, is facing three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

2020 overdose death toll rises to 73 in the Okanagan

Just under half of the deaths occurred in Kelowna

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Kamloops Mounties happened upon alleged gang-related robbery, kidnapping

Michael Mathieson is charged with armed robbery, unlawful confinement and kidnapping

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Interior Health reports five new COVID-19 cases

Across the region, 34 cases are active

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Historic BC Tree Fruits head office in Okanagan for sale

The company’s CEO said the decision was necessary due to a fickle fruit market

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Most Read