Downtown dealer jailed

A former downtown Kelowna drug dealer with 48 criminal convictions says he has connected with a higher power while in custody, and he's committed to turning his life around.

On Friday, Justice Gary Weatherill sentenced Stephan Rauner to an additional 10 months in jail, taking into account the many addiction recovery programs Rauner has completed during his year of pre-sentence custody at Okanagan Correctional Centre. The jail term is in addition to the year he's spent in pre-sentence custody, which he was granted enhanced credit for at 1.5 times actual time served.

The two charges of trafficking a controlled substance, to which Rauner pleaded guilty last month, stem from two separate undercover police sting operations in downtown Kelowna, on July 8 and Dec. 14 2017. 

In the first instance, Rauner sold 0.2 grams of heroin, which also contained the much stronger opioid carfentanil, to an undercover officer in City Park.

After he was arrested and released on bail, Rauner again sold an undercover officer drugs in downtown Kelowna, this time a small amount of methamphetamine.

Rauner was addicted to crack cocaine when he was dealing the drugs in Kelowna, but he told the court he is just days away from being one year sober.

While Rauner has 46 prior convictions dating back to 1991, including three other trafficking-related offences and several drug possession charges, his defence attorney Jordan Watt spent Friday morning outlining Rauner's steps to rehabilitation which he has undertaken while in custody.

“He wants to constantly educate himself and get better to ensure that when he is released from custody, that he will not fall back into the holes that he has in the past,” Watt said, adding Rauner has spearheaded a Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous group at OCC and leads a church service at the jail.

The Crown had been seeking 36 months in jail for trafficking the carfentanil-laced heroin in addition to 18 months for trafficking the meth, while Rauner's defence had urged Justice Weatherill consider either a suspended sentence, or at most, an additional 6 months imprisonment.

“The sentence that (the Crown) wants your Lordship to impose on these two offences will be an absolutely crushing blow to Mr. Rauner and will have a devastating impact upon all of the steps he has made towards his rehabilitation,” Watt said.

During his sentencing submission last month, Crown prosecutor Justin Dalton highlighted the particular harm that drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil have had in B.C. in recent years. In 2017, 75 people died from illicit drugs in Kelowna.

“I truly am ashamed, embarrassed and remorseful that I have allowed myself to hit such a low, I know the devastation that drugs cause,” Rauner told the court. “I cannot believe I have allowed myself to be a contributing part to other people's brokenness.”

Justice Weatherill ultimately sentenced Rauner to 28 months for the heroin offence and 10 months for the meth, but ruled that the sentences will be served at the same time.

“Both indictments arose out of an ongoing pattern of drug trafficking,” Justice Weatherill said, adding that ordering Rauner to serve the sentences consecutively would ignore his rehabilitative steps.

Rauner will remain on probation for two years following his release.

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