WINDSOR, NS - A truck driver found to have a load of drugs on board in Brooklyn more than three years ago will serve federal time.
David Joseph MacDonald, 42, of Pinevale, Antigonish County, was present in Supreme Court in Windsor on Jan. 31 for his sentencing hearing. Nova Scotia Supreme Court Judge Gregory Warner sentenced MacDonald to a total of 30 months in custody.
MacDonald had changed his pleas to guilty to charges of unlawfully possessing methamphetamine and unlawfully possessing cocaine on May 22, 2018.
He maintained not guilty pleas to charges of unlawfully possessing in excess of three kilograms of cannabis marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and unlawfully possessing psilocybin (magic mushrooms) for the purpose of trafficking.
These matters proceeded to a trial by Supreme Court judge alone, as elected by MacDonald. The trial unfolded over May 22 and 23 and July 12 and 13, 2018.
On Sept. 14, 2018, Warner found MacDonald guilty on the two possession for the purpose of trafficking charges. The matters were adjourned to allow time for a pre-sentence report to be prepared and for sentencing. MacDonald committed the offences in Brooklyn on Sept. 30, 2015. A charge of unlawfully possessing LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) for the purpose of trafficking was dismissed in May 2016.
MacDonald was sentenced to 30 months for possessing in excess of three kilograms of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking; three months – to be served concurrently – for unlawfully possessing psilocybin for the purpose of trafficking and one month concurrent on each of the two possession charges. The court granted a mandatory DNA order and imposed a firearm prohibition against MacDonald.
MacDonald was arrested and charged after investigators in the Drug Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Windsor RCMP seized a large quantity of drugs from a transport truck in Brooklyn.
As part of an ongoing investigation, Windsor District RCMP conducted a traffic stop on an 18-wheeler on Highway 14. The truck, a 2007 Peterbilt tractor and trailer, was seized. MacDonald was the driver and lone occupant of the truck.
According to information released by the RCMP following MacDonald’s arrest, police seized 609.5 pounds of cannabis marijuana; 19,800 LSD tablets, 3.9 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms, 47 methamphetamine pills and a small quantity of cocaine and methamphetamine.
The RCMP had received an anonymous tip regarding MacDonald and his red Peterbilt tractor hauling a flat-deck trailer on Sept. 30, 2015. Police pulled MacDonald over that afternoon on Highway 14 in Brooklyn.
Three crates were found on the trailer containing the drugs. There were 1,315 vacuum packed bags of marijuana and three bags of magic mushrooms. MacDonald had argued that he didn’t know the drugs were in the crates. A bill of lading indicated that they contained a refurbished piano and antique musical instruments.
“The accused submitted that he was a ‘blind courier’,” Warner wrote in his Sept. 14 decision finding MacDonald guilty of the possession for the purpose of trafficking charges.
“His actions unequivocally say otherwise.”
In his decision, Warner drew attention to two fraudulent bills of lading that he said a truck driver of MacDonald’s experience would have recognized. The documents – which accompany any cargo – stated that the shipment for Day and Ross was picked up at the company’s shipping facility in Kelowna, British Columbia, and was destined for the Day and Ross facility in Dartmouth.
MacDonald, who is an independent owner and operator, has never transported goods for Day and Ross, so he would not have been able to carry the company’s cargo.
One of the bills of lading didn’t have the weight of the crates marked on it. If it had gone through the Kelowna Day and Ross facility as claimed, it would have been weighed by staff and the weight would have been included on the document.
The RCMP also seized two iPhones, two iPads and a Blackberry from the truck. One iPhone and both iPads were locked and encrypted and the Blackberry had been wiped of data. Searching through the unlocked iPhone, police found a photo of vacuum sealed bags of cash on a bed.
In a Jan. 31 forfeiture hearing regarding the tractor trailer and other property seized, Warner ordered the forfeiture of the tractor while the trailer is to be returned to its owner. The court ordered that a handgun and ammunition, $20, $755 and a dash camera be returned.
Following a hearing in December 2015, Judge Claudine MacDonald had returned the transport truck to MacDonald so he could continue his employment. He was ordered to maintain and insure the vehicle.
Child pornography charge
MacDonald is also facing a charge of possessing child pornography images in Brooklyn between Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, 2015. According to court documents, MacDonald’s legal counsel made an application to withdraw due to ethical reasons. The application was granted and the matter was adjourned to March 1 for a hearing to set a trial date.
The accused has waived making any arguments with regard to the delay. MacDonald pleaded not guilty to the charge, which has not been proven in court, in December 2016.
- With files from Colin Chisholm, The Hants Journal, and Aaron Beswick, The Chronicle Herald