A prominent Upper Similkameen Indian Band member will have to pay up $2,500 for illegally selling game meat in a case he says has “made me very upset, and I am very remorseful.”
Clint Holmes, brother of former USIB chief Rick Holmes, appeared before Judge Robin Smith for a sentencing hearing Monday afternoon, with Crown and defence lawyers offering a joint submission of the minimum fine for charges of trafficking in wildlife.
“You will not be seeing me in here again. And I can tell you that this also burdens me with — this is my identity, here. This isn’t something I’ve picked up and I do. This is my identity,” Holmes told Smith about his hunting practice in court.
“How this all happened, it has made me very upset, and I’m very remorseful. You will not see me in here again.”
Holmes, currently on leave from his position as a natural and cultural resource technician at USIB, entered a guilty plea on one of two counts of trafficking in wildlife he was facing, including from a November 2016 case, in which he sold an undercover officer $100 in meat.
The B.C. Conservation Officers Service first got a complaint in October 2015 about Holmes providing game meat to a relative to be sold, and in an investigation, an undercover officer arranged to meet with Holmes about a truck for sale, which Holmes offered some game meat to go with the truck.
“The officer did not buy the truck, but Mr. Holmes sold him $50 worth of butchered elk meat,” the Crown lawyer on the case said.
“In November of 2016, the officer contacted Mr. Holmes again to purchase more wildlife meat. Mr. Holmes made arrangements for his wife to meet the officer to sell the meat. She did so, and sold them $100 worth of deer and moose meat.”
In a joint submission, Crown and defence suggested a $2,500 fine — the minimum fine for the charge, with the maximum being $250,000 and two years in jail — taking into account the remorse from Holmes, his guilty plea, as well as his Indigenous heritage.
Judges are mandated to take Indigenous heritage into account where it is relevant, as part of the Gladue sentencing principles, and Smith appeared sympathetic to Holmes’ cultural attachment to hunting.
“I know you have a heritage and identity, and hunting is a big part of it,” Smith said. “Everybody makes mistakes in life,” he added, suggesting Holmes not make the same mistake again.
In accordance with the creative sentencing principles of the Wildlife Act, $2,000 of the fine will be diverted to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund.
Holmes will have a year to pay the fine, which he said he will be able to pay through work on wildfire mitigation plans with USIB.