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Man with alleged gang ties handed a fine

A former Penticton man with alleged gang ties, was handed a $750 fine and a year probation in a Penticton court room on Friday.

Justice Susan Griffin handed down the decision at the end of the trial for Steven Phillip King, who was facing a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

After listening to the circumstances of the case, Griffin only sentenced King for simple possession.

According to the judge, on June 28, 2010, police officers, all members of the Penticton Drug Task Force, executed a search warrant at King's home on Maple Street. 

When officers entered the home he was reclining on the couch with a cell phone in his hand. The phone was taken away and he was arrested for an alleged 6.7 grams of cocaine found at the residence.

The crack cocaine was found inside a zippered arm rest on the couch. The evidence suggesting King lived there included a traffic violation ticket and a large black T-shirt with his last name on the sleeve and the letters GTS on the front. There was also a framed photograph of him holding what looked to be a gun.

Other items seized believed to be linked to the drug trade included digital scales, cash and a black notebook believed to contain drug transactions. 

There was a machete in the garage, but it was not introduced as evidence.

Defence witness Mika Grgich testified during the trial that she was a longtime friend and King was like a brother to her. She spent a lot of time at King's residence because he did not like to be alone.

She said the scores in the black notebook were for a dice game and that King was adamant that people not bring drugs into the house.

She was active in using and selling drugs but did not sell drugs out of his residence and also testified that she never purchased drugs from him.

She said the drugs could have been hers but was not challenged on this during the trial. The judge said it made no sense she would leave a stash of drugs at his house.

It was Grgich who said there were rumours, King was part of a gang.

According to information in news stories and on the Internet, a man named Steven King does have ties to a gang known as the Game Tight Soldiers, a gang that was active on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver and in Prince George.

After the judge recounted the evidence given during the trial, Crown Counsel Kylie Walman and defence lawyer James Pennington gave a joint submission of a fine of $750 and one year probation. King must also stay out of BC for the length of the probation and attend to any counselling.

Pennington said his client would need some time to pay the fine.

When asked if he wanted to speak, King said he was sorry to waste the court's time with this matter. He asked to be granted some time to spend with his family, before going back to work in Ontario.

The justice said after considering the joint submission and being aware of the facts of the crime, with King having a significant amount of cocaine in his possession, she was prepared to accept the joint submission.

She agreed that he must spend the probationary time outside of BC.

King declined to comment after the sentencing. Pennington said his client was relieved.

When asked about his client's gang ties, he said it was gossip and innuendo, and how do you answer to gossip.

He added that his client was now trying to be a law abiding and respectful citizen.

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