A Chilliwack man found guilty of drugs and firearms charges may receive a six-year jail sentence. That’s what Crown is seeking for William Rodney Bishop, 34, while defence is pushing for 30 months. Both sides presented their case at a sentencing hearing March 9 at the Chilliwack Law Courts.
Bishop was in the gallery and Judge Kristen Mundstock on the bench as Crown prosecutor Susan Gill laid out details of crimes committed in 2019. Between Feb. 7 and 22 of that year, RCMP investigated a dial-a-dope operation, eventually raiding a home at 46035 Gore Avenue on Feb. 26. In the basement of that house police found drugs and trafficking paraphernalia like a scale, baggies and scoresheets. They also found four rifles, a Sig Sauer handgun, and an over-capacity magazine.
Police seized 101.59 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of $10,000 along with 41.7 grams of crystal meth valued at $2,900 and 2.7 grams of fentanyl valued between $320 and $420.
Bishop was arrested, went to trial, and in July 2022 he was found guilty on 10 charges including four of possession for the purpose of trafficking. It’s the third time Bishop has been convicted of that particular charge, which Gill argued should be an aggravating factor. She provided several reasons why he should get a longer sentence, including the fact there were children living upstairs in the Gore Avenue home, and the fact he was on 24-hour house arrest with electronic monitoring when he committed these crimes.
Gill characterized Bishop as a mid-to-low-end operative who sold directly to customers while also supplying street dealers with product. Selling fentanyl, she suggested, was particularly bad as she walked Mundstock through stats on toxic drug overdoses provided by the B.C. Coroner’s Service.
Bishop’s lawyer, Derwin Petri, presented his client as a low level dealer. Petri suggested the small amount of fentanyl he was caught with, a little over two grams, could have been for personal use. Petri noted Bishop’s rough upbringing, caused in part by a disconnect from his Indigenous heritage.
Bishop has Metis heritage through a great grandmother and Petri said his client self-identifies as Indigenous. A B.C. Court of Appeals ruling suggested that people shouldn’t be punished for being disconnected from Indigenous culture as a result of assimilationist Canadian policies.
Bishop started using drugs at the age of 10, starting with marijuana before moving on to cocaine at age 13 and crack cocaine at 15. He got into crystal meth when he was 26, and both Crown and defence agreed he dealt drugs to sustain his own addiction.
Bishop has gotten into more trouble the last three years. He faces three more possession for the purpose of trafficking charges for alleged incidents on Feb. 19, 2022, and he is charged with wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer and dangerous driving from May 27, 2022. To date, he has 15 convictions.
He’ll be back in court March 17 to fix a date to hear his sentence.
- With files from Jennifer Feinberg