A woman who pleaded guilty to possession of fentanyl and methamphetamine for the purpose of trafficking has been sentenced to 22 months of house arrest by a Surrey provincial court judge.
“What to do with a 58 year old woman whose entire life has been a battle against one obstacle after another, and whose own son died after consuming the toxic substance she was selling out of the front door of her home?” Judge Mark Jetté pondered. “Even though her son passed some months after her arrest in April 2020, there can be no question that Ms. Coppick knew what she was doing, and she knew that the product she was selling might prove lethal. The loss of her son was a tragic after the fact illustration of that sad reality.”
Jetté also sentenced Dawn Michelle Coppick to 12 months of probation. For the first nine months she must stay inside her basement suite 24 hours a day, every day, and after that obey a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.
“I have no trouble concluding that Ms. Coppick serving a CSO in the community would not endanger the public; she is stable now and has not run into any other trouble since her arrest in April of 2020,” Jetté concluded.
The judge noted in his April 20 reasons for sentence that each month more than 200 people die after using opioids, typically fentanyl or another substance mixed with it. The maximum sentence for possessing fentanyl or methamphetamine for the purpose of trafficking is life.
The Crowns argued for a jail sentence in the range of 24-30 months for Coppick while the defence argued for a conditional sentence order (“CSO”) with probation.
Jetté noted in his reasons that police received a tip about “drug activities” at an address on 60A Avenue in Surrey, did surveillance and on April 28, 2020 followed one of these visitors away from the residence and arrested her after she police found two grams of methamphetamine in her possession. Police then obtained and executed a search warrant at the residence and arrested Coppick inside.
“At point of arrest she told police that drugs were inside her purse, and that her roommate, who was also present, was not involved,” the judge noted.
Police seized three cell phones, two digital scales with residue, a purse containing four bags of methamphetamine weighing 185.75 grams and a bag of fentanyl weighing 21.81 grams, $1,145 in a wallet with receipts in Coppick’s name, $1,790 in a wallet and seven bags of fentanyl Coppicks’s bedroom weighing 6.44 grams.
Police also found in her bedroom an envelope containing $425 Canadian and $275 U.S., a second envelope with $2,400 Canadian and a third envelope with $9,000 Canadian.
“In total, police located 28.25 grams of fentanyl and 185.75 grams of methamphetamine. The approximate street value of the fentanyl was $4,360; the methamphetamine was worth about $5,600. $14,760 CAD and $275 USD were seized,” Jetté noted.
The court heard Coppick admitted to police she’d been selling drugs from the house and “was serving about five people a day.”
“She said some of her customers purchased ounces at a time, although she did not say which substance she was referring to. She also told police that she was being supplied by someone else - she did not identify that person by name – and they dropped off four ounces every four or five days. She started with smaller quantities about a year before the police arrived, then the larger amounts started arriving a few months later.”
Jetté noted Coppick’ life has “been plagued by addiction, poverty, and abuse” and has a criminal record that dates back to 1982 and “carries on into the early 2000’s,” primarily for theft and other property offences.
“I find that Ms. Coppick was essentially a street-level dealer operating at the lowest rung of the drug world, although it appears that some of her sales were in quantities higher than the smaller amounts typically purchased by drug users,” the judge said. “I also accept that she was not making a profit at the time when police executed their warrant, but that she was earning money to retire the debt she owed to her supplier.”
A forensic psychiatric report indicated Coppick poses a low risk to re-offend, Jetté noted, “so long as she is able to maintain pro-social supports and keep her own addiction issues under control. She has been stable and sober since the fall of 2021, so she has demonstrated that she can do the things necessary to avoid a U-turn back into a criminal lifestyle.”
The judge noted that since her offence was committed “there have been no further issues, and Ms. Coppick has made important changes in her life since then.
“The Ms. Coppicks of this world are used by others, higher in the food chain, to keep the business of street-level drug sales moving forward,” Jetté added. “She is a vulnerable person, unsophisticated, and surprisingly naïve. Her drug operation was not sophisticated – she sold drugs from her own home in a manner which would almost certainly result in detection and arrest.”