Court hears Ayangma appeal on drug conviction

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 11, 2016

Court appears Ayangma appeal on drug conviction

A convicted drug trafficker represented himself — sort of — in an appeal hearing Wednesday.

Sebastien Didier Ayangma argued his case before the P.E.I. Court of Appeal with heavy assistance from his father, Noel Ayangma, who is no stranger to tackling legal matters in court.

Even though the P.E.I. Court of Appeal denied in late December Sebastien's application to have his father as his agent representing him in the appeal hearing, Noel still managed to make his presence felt.

Sebastien informed the panel of three Supreme Court judges, led by Chief Justice David Jenkins, that his father prepared his statement of defence.

And throughout the afternoon in court, Sebastien continually looked back over his shoulder to get direction from his father, who was seated in the first row of the gallery. Sebastien did not have a lawyer by his side.

The judges seemed willing to humour the coaching relationship between father and son with the exception of one occasion when Jenkins told Noel to "stop talking.''

Sebastien put forward a number of arguments in hopes of winning an appeal on conviction of four counts of trafficking cocaine.

Sebastien told the court police did not have reasonable grounds to suspect he was trafficking drugs before engaging a police agent in a sting operation.

Much of the Crown's case against Sebastien was based on evidence presented by the police agent who purchased drugs.

Sebastien sold cocaine to the agent on four occasions between Dec. 31, 2012 and Jan. 9, 2014.

Griping about being saddled with "incompetent council'' during his trial, Sebastien also argued his conviction should be overturned based on inadequate disclosure.

He also argued his 30-month prison sentence was too harsh when compared with similar cases.

Jenkins suggested some of Sebastien's arguments would have better been raised during the trial rather than at the appeal hearing.

Crown attorney Monica McQueen argued the sentence "is not out of the range of reasonable sentences''.

She noted the trial judge, Supreme Court Justice Gordon Campbell, made reasoned assessment of numerous relevant cases in sentencing Sebastien to 30 months in jail.

Crown attorney Jan Murray told the court the appellant failed to provide any argument that would refute reasonable suspicion was established by police.

She said police had "ample grounds'' to focus attention on Sebastien as a likely drug trafficker.

Ayangma was among dozens of suspected drug traffickers rounded up by police in January of 2014 as part of Operation Clean Sweep, an operation that netted close to $400,000 in illegal drugs.

Jenkins said a written decision would be delivered in the spring.

"You've given us a lot to think about,'' he told Sebastien.