A Maple Ridge woman who was sentenced to three years in jail for trafficking drugs, including fentanyl and methamphetamine, lost the appeal of her sentence.
Amber Holly Kristeen Bridgen had already been unsuccessful in appealing her conviction, on the grounds that the police search of her residence was not legal, but the court of appeal upheld the conviction in December of 2022.
She was found guilty on four counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, and in March of 2021 sentenced to three years in jail. She was 40 years old at that time, unmarried, and had no criminal record.
In April of 2016, a Ridge Meadows RCMP constable received information from two informants that someone named Amber was supplying street-level drug dealers with fentanyl and crystal methamphetamine. They identified her black Jeep, where she lived, and where she walked her pit bull. Police conducted surveillance on 10 different days.
On April 14, Bridgen was arrested siting in her vehicle in a store parking lot. She was found to have baggies of fentanyl and methamphetamine, and about $900 cash.
A subsequent search of her rented residence found 54 grams of fentanyl, 28 grams of meth, 18 grams of cocaine and other drugs for a total of 102 grams of controlled substances.
Police also found almost $7,700 in U.S. cash, scales, packing materials, and “score sheets” recording the names of people indebted for drugs. The street value of the narcotics was between $12,400 and $15,500.
She was described in court as a mid-level trafficker, reloading others who participated in street-level sales.
The courts heard she had managed Booster Juice locations, and worked at a casino as a manager/bookkeeper. An auto accident led to her taking pain medication, addiction, and involvement in the drug communities.
The BC Court of Appeal heard her sentencing appeal on May 11 in Vancouver, and made a judgement on June 8. The written reasons by Madam Justice Newbury supported the trial judge.
“He found that the appellant’s circumstances did not place her at the low end of the scale of blameworthiness, especially given that she was apparently motivated ‘primarily by profit’ to sell the drugs she did,” wrote Newbury.
The court also saw no evidence Bidgen had “truly turned her life around,” as her appeal argued, even though she had not offended since April 2016.
“When we questioned Mr. Markovitz (Bridgen’s lawyer) about the notable lack of any expression of remorse and the absence of evidence as to whether Ms. Bridgen is now rehabilitated in the sense of being drug‑free, he questioned whether expressions of remorse or rehabilitation can or should be taken seriously by courts when sentencing offenders,” said Newbury in her written reasons for dismissing the appeal.
“Essentially, he suggested that courts are somewhat naïve in crediting such expressions of remorse, and that the only regret felt by most offenders is simply that they were caught. One hopes this is not the case, but no such evidence was provided in the case at bar, so that a possible factor in the appellant’s favour was not present.”
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