A prolific offender with a history of drug offences was convicted on 10 counts of trafficking and firearms charges in Chilliwack provincial court Tuesday.
William Rodney Bishop, 34, was charged with trafficking fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, and possessing four rifles, a Sig Sauer handgun, and an over-capacity magazine.
The court heard that RCMP seized drugs and weapons from the cellar of a single-family residence at 46035 Gore Ave. on Feb. 26, 2019. That was following an RCMP drug-section investigation into suspected trafficking that involved an officer calling a cellphone number linked to the drug operation in an attempt to purchase drugs.
Crown asserted Bishop was trafficking from the basement area, which was described as being more like a cellar, with other people delivering the drugs because Bishop was under court-ordered conditions including house arrest and electronic monitoring.
Defence countered that the cellar had been rented to Westin Ferguson for $400 a month even though there were no washroom or cooking facilities, and that Bishop had no knowledge of the drugs and guns. Ferguson said he and Bishop were both addicts, and he would sometimes go upstairs to watch movies or have dinner in Bishop’s part of the residence.
Ferguson also testified that the firearms belonged to “Mel’s boyfriend” but could not recall what Mel’s last name was.
RCMP drug section investigation into suspected trafficking involved calling a cellphone in an attempt to purchase drugs, and an officer later testified that Ferguson sold 0.36 grams of crack to them on Feb. 7, for which Ferguson was convicted.
Officers seized 57 items from the cellar, which included: 101.59 grams of cocaine, 41.7 grams of meth, 2.7 grams of fentanyl, cash, digital scales, bulk baggies, scoresheets, a handwritten note to “Rodney,” and Bishop’s recognizance document.
There was a Remington bolt-action rifle among the four firearms as well as the handgun and over-capacity magazine, and more than $2,000 in Canadian and U.S. cash.
The cellar was described as well-lit with armchairs, coffee table, couch, and rug. Some of the items seized were identified as stolen and were returned to their owners.
Also seized from the cellar were four notebooks, that included notes and numbers that used street drug jargon like “pants” for heroin and and “side” for meth.
Two fingerprints of Bishop’s were lifted from a notebook containing scoresheets.
Ferguson testified at the trial, but Judge Kristen Mundstock questioned his credibility adding she had concerns about the “reliability” of his testimony, and that it seemed “contrived.”
When Ferguson claimed a note about a drug deal shorting a customer was a “joke,” Mundstock noted that it wasn’t funny, and that some of what he said “defies common sense,” and “lacked an air of reality.”
Mundstock stated that the case against Bishop was purely built on circumstantial evidence, but that taken together she was “satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Crown had “proven the essential elements” of the case and the 10 counts.
“Any one of these facts alone would not lead to an inference of guilt, but when I consider the cumulative effect of each of these facts and the evidence as a whole, along with other inferences inconsistent with guilt, I find the only reasonable inference is that Mr. Bishop had knowledge that the controlled substances and firearms were located in the cellar, and he had a degree of control over them which amounts to constructive possession.”
“In conclusion I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the Crown has proven the essential elements.”
Bishop’s sentencing was put over to a future date as of yet undecided.
Meanwhile, Bishop is facing three more possession for the purpose of trafficking charges in court for alleged incidents on Feb. 19, 2022, and he is charged with wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer and dangerous driving from May 27.
He is next due in court to face those charges on Aug. 3.
– with files from Paul Henderson
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