Nine-months in jail for Surrey grow-op is fair, says B.C. Court of Appeal

  - File Photo / The Leader
— image credit: File Photo / The Leader

A Surrey man who argued nine-months in jail was unfair punishment for his 629-plant pot grow-op has lost an appeal of his sentence.

In February of last year, Sai Cheong Lau, pleaded guilty to producing marijuana.

He had bought a home near 113 Street and Lansdowne Drive in Surrey, where he initially lived with his common-law partner and their child. When the relationship ended, Lau set up a grow op in the basement which police discovered on March 30, 2011.

The police report noted there was packaged marijuana consistent "not only with personal use but also with the distribution and sale of the harvested product."

Lau admitted he had set up the grow operation due to financial pressures. He eventually went bankrupt and lost the home.

During sentencing, the Crown recommended a year-long jail sentence, while Lau sought an 18-month conditional sentence.

The judge sentenced him to nine months prison, saying the grow-op was sophisticated and clearly for commercial purposes, even though Lau was licensed for a medical grow-op for his own medical use.

In appealing his sentence, Lau contended the judge didn't give sufficient weight to the mitigating circumstances he had remarried and had a second child at the time of sentencing and was the family's primary provider and over-emphasized the aggravating factors (the size and commercial nature of the grow op).

A three-member B.C. Court of Appeal panel disagreed with Lau, however, upholding the provincial court sentence.

"The judge articulated and applied the correct legal principles," wrote Justice Anne MacKenzie in her May 1 reasons. "She specifically considered the mitigating factors listed by Mr. Lau. Given the aggravating factors of the size, sophistication and commercial nature of the operation located in a residential neighbourhood, I consider the nine months’ imprisonment to be a fit sentence to which considerable deference is owed."


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