“I’m taking responsibility, I will do my time, respect the rules and I’ll come back a better man.”
Those were the words from Paul Ohelo before the Fort McMurray man was sentenced to five and a half years for his role in a drug trafficking network.
On Wednesday, in a joint submission from the Crown and Defense, Ohelo was handed one sentence of five and half years for fentanyl along with a second sentence of three and a half years for trafficking cocaine – served concurrently with the first sentence.
The sentence will also be reduced by one day for time served prior to the trial.
Ohelo’s Defense Lawyer Leon Colwin tells Mix News he’s never seen a person so remorseful for their actions.
“He really regrets the shame that he brought upon his family but he stood up and took his sentence like a man. He didn’t make any excuses and he simply wants to take his punishment and serve his sentence.”
In June 2015, Alberta’s Law Enforcement Response Team, along with Wood Buffalo RCMP, seized more than $1 million worth of drugs after executing seven search warrants.
It was a two-year investigation, dating back to April 2013.
ALERT was able to seize 7.2 kilograms of cocaine, 2,908 fentanyl pills, over 26 kilograms of marijuana, 198 grams of psilocybin, a loaded rifle with a prohibited magazine, and a shotgun.
At the time, Ohelo was not arrested but did have a warrant for his arrest.
According to ALERT, Ohelo was only an associate in the alleged drug network.
Court documents show on March 5, 2015, Ohelo sold 200 fentanyl pills to an undercover cop who said the plan was to sell the drugs in Nunavut.
Back in June, Ohelo eventually plead guilty to two charges of trafficking fentanyl and cocaine.
Ohelo’s family was struck with grief as Colwin read an impact statement given to him by Ohelo’s mother.
In the letter, she expresses remorse for her son’s actions and tells the court the story of how far their family had come from Congo to Canada for a better life.
There was a flurry of emotion as the letter was read, with many members of the defendant’s family having to leave the courtroom.
Colwin says that it’s a sad circumstance for all parties involved.
“Any family would feel bad seeing their loved ones go to prison. It’s an obvious answer. I don’t think anyone feels good about this. I don’t think the prosecutor feels good and I don’t think the defense feels good. It’s a tragedy, it really is. It’s hard, very hard.”
During deliberations, the Crown and Defense were in agreeance that due to the remorse shown by Ohelo, his supportive family and after considering cases of similar circumstances for first time offenders – that five and half years total was an appropriate sentence.
In his final address to the court, Ohelo expressed his desire to serve his time and do what he can to make amends with his loved ones.
“I’m very sorry for my mother.”