Lengthy sentence may save man’s life
By Canadian Press
By Canadian Press
April 6, 2021 – The decade will be nearly over before Steven Tasker steps foot outside of prison again. But Tasker’s lawyer says his client’s arrest and incarceration may literally save his life.
Tasker’s criminal record is just as massive, with 58 convictions despite his relatively young age. This includes prior drug trafficking pleas, and Tasker was even on bail for drug offences during his fentanyl trafficking arrest.
The events that now land Tasker in jail until 2028 come following a July 2020 drug bust at an Elgin St. home. Tasker and several other people were arrested by Sarnia Police during the evening raid.
Tasker is described as both a profit and addict trafficker. He used the drug to make money but also has a serious addiction to it. Officers said Tasker was “skeletal and mentally unaware of his circumstances and surroundings,” and “on another planet.”
“He’s looking at 20 years wasted of his life,” says Defence Lawyer Jamie Guggisberg, who says his client has had drug addiction issues from his early teens to the present day.
Guggisberg says a long-term jail sentence might actually be the best thing for Tasker. “This arrest has saved Steven’s life? I can say with almost certainty that the path he was on would have led to his own death.”
A joint submission of an eight year sentence from Guggisberg and Crown Attorney Brian Higgins was accepted by Justice Deborah Austin. “One would think that sentences in this range would start to have an impact,” says Guggisberg.
“We know sadly in our community of the intolerable risk posed by fentanyl, not only serious addiction and social ills, but the risk of death,” says Austin.
A pre-sentence report revealed Tasker knows people who have died from overdoses since his arrest.
But there was consensus Tasker is eager to finally change his ways.
“He recognizes that he is not ready to return to society, and he has a lot of work to do,” says Higgins. “He shows a lot of insight in terms of his addiction and what he needs to do to change himself, and he seems to accept responsibility for what he’s done.”
“Despite everything that’s brought him here today, he is still an individual with a great deal of potential,” says Guggisberg. “He is looking forward to sentence today to begin the first steps of what hopefully will be the rest of his life.”
Austin also found Tasker’s prospects at rehabilitation high, and is recommending his sentence be served in a facility that will give him “the opportunity at a clean, sober, controlled environment to engage in programming to help you to be successful.”
Austin directed Tasker to take substance abuse counselling and vocational training while incarcerated.
With time served Tasker has just more than six years and 11 months remaining in jail. He receives a lifetime firearms ban, must submit a DNA order, and forfeits $3,865 cash seized during the raid.