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Man caught with cocaine, fentanyl for sale at Burnaby mall loses appeal to reduce sentence

Elia Samadi was caught near Burnaby's Lougheed mall with fentanyl, cocaine, four cans of bear spray, five knives and five cell phones – one of which got eight calls for drugs in 30 minutes after Samadi was arrested.
Elia Samadi, 28, was caught with drugs for sale near Burnaby's Lougheed mall in January 2019.

A 28-year-old man caught with fentanyl and cocaine for sale at a Burnaby mall was sent back to jail last month after an appeal of his sentence was dismissed by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Elia Samadi, a first time offender, was sentenced in September 2022 to eight months in jail and 18 months of probation after being convicted on two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, according to a Court of Appeal ruling last month.

On Jan. 18 and 19, 2019, police had watched a then 24-year-old Samadi operating what they believed was a dial-a-dope operation out of a rental vehicle parked near Burnaby’s Lougheed mall.

On arrest, he was found to be in possession of 110 small baggies of fentanyl totalling 18.3 grams and 45 baggies of cocaine totaling 11.48 grams, according to the ruling.

The street value of the drugs was estimated at $4,400.

Police also found five cell phones, five knives, four cans of bear spray and $1,000 in cash.

One of the seized phones appeared to be doing a brisk business. Police answered it eight times in about 30 minutes to field calls from prospective drug buyers, according to the ruling.

Samadi served about five weeks of his eight-month sentence before being released from jail pending an appeal.

He applied to have his sentence changed to time served, but that appeal was unanimously rejected on March 24.

An appeals court can only intervene to change a sentence if it is “demonstrably unfit” or if the sentencing judge made an “error in principle” that impacted the sentence.

The Court of Appeal ruled that hadn’t happened in Samadi’s case.

“The sentence is not demonstrably unfit,” states the ruling, written by Justice James Fitch. “In fact, it represents a significant departure from the generally applicable range in recognition of the appellant’s mental health challenges and past substance misuse.”

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor