Three Toronto men sentenced in January 2021 drugs and weapons incident in Wiikwemkoong

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GORE BAY – The community of Wiikwemkoong was the victim of crime when three men drove from Toronto to Wiikwemkoong earlier this year for the purpose of drug trafficking. One of those men, Lascel Tyndale, was sentenced on Friday to 35 months in custody, equivalent to three years less time served pre-trial.

Three Toronto men were arrested without incident by Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service officers on the morning of January 5, 2021 following a 911 call regarding weapons. In May 2021, Mr. Tyndale pleaded guilty to possession of a loaded, restricted firearm; possession of a prohibited device; possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking; failure to comply with a recognizance; and possession of property obtained by crime.

During the incident on January 5, 70 grams of cocaine with an approximate street value of $14,000 was found and $1,330 cash. At his feet was a fully loaded handgun with one round in the chamber. The gun had a 15 bullet clip which is a prohibited device. Beside the gun was a bag of cocaine, which was later weighed at 109.5 grams with an approximate street value of $21,900.

Federal and provincial prosecutors along with defence counsel Joelle Klein prepared a joint submission for the court, suggesting a global sentence of three years less pre-trial custody was appropriate considering the aggravating and mitigating factors at play. 

That the incident occurred in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory was an aggravating factor for the consideration of sentencing. First Nations continue to live with the consequences of colonization including the loss of culture, law, language and economy, resulting in significant poverty, said Justice Jessica Wolfe in her decision. This, and the trauma arising from the residential school and child welfare systems makes community members vulnerable to addiction and exploitation, tearing families apart and impacting community cohesion. 

Possession of a loaded firearm and a prohibited device were aggravating factors as well. “Firearm offences are inherently dangerous, particularly in the context of selling drugs. Robberies happen. People seek retribution,” Justice Wolfe said. Another aggravating factor was the amount of drugs seized, which was clearly indicative of trafficking, “in this case driven by aspirations of financial gain as opposed to addiction.” 

Mr. Tyndale co-operated with police and accepted responsibility by entering a guilty plea knowing the consequences. These were both mitigating factors, as was his lack of a criminal record, his youth and potential for rehabilitation. 

He has a young son and is engaged to the boy’s mother. Both Mr. Tyndale’s mother and fiancé attended his sentencing hearing to provide support. Mr. Tyndale indicated he is anxious to become a law-abiding citizen so he can help raise his child post-custody.

In addition to 35 months in custody, Mr. Tyndale received a weapons prohibition and was ordered to provide a DNA sample. Justice Wolfe also ordered forfeiture of the drugs, cash, gun and ammunition seized. For the failure to comply charge, Mr. Tyndale was sentenced to six months custody, to be served concurrently.

Co-accused Dylano Williams pled guilty to failing to comply with a probation order. The nature of the breach was not keeping the peace by involvement in the January 5 incident. He was sentenced to 30 days pre-sentence custody and a five dollar fine.

Kenyon Ohamu, the third co-accused, pled guilty to possession of property obtained by crime, breach of a release order and breach of probation. At the time of the January 5 incident, Mr. Ohamu was on bail for a serious offence out of Scarborough. He was sentenced to six months custody and in light of the four months he spent in pre-trial custody, he was deemed to have served his six months.