It took Clayton Allen Archie Eheler nearly nine years to navigate his way through the justice system, and it all culminated with a six-minute sentencing hearing on Wednesday (September 13).
The 41-year-old man appeared in person in Chilliwack court to receive a verdict from British Columbia Provincial Judge Peter Dohm on a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking dating back to 2014. Dohm wasted no time in give the green light to a joint venture. presentation between the Crown and defense lawyer Bill Jessop. Both sides arrived at an overall sentence of seven years, with Eheler receiving credit for five years already served.
This leaves an additional two years in prison.
“I take full responsibility for what happened,” Eheler told the court. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own and I want to move on with my life and move forward.”
On November 26, 2014, police executed a search warrant at an apartment building on Brett Avenue, which runs from Edward Street to Mary Street, near the Chilliwack General Hospital. Eheler and co-defendant Matthew Thiessen were seen entering the building and Eheler was arrested on the balcony below a unit where officers found 7.8 grams of powder cocaine and 1.25 grams of crack cocaine. They also found approximately 22 kilograms of an unknown white powder, a vacuum machine and vacuum bags as well as other equipment related to drug trafficking.
Eheler pleaded guilty on April 3, 2023, but he fought hard before finally conceding. Both Eheler and Thiessen have filed multiple Charter challenges. They were convicted in November 2019, but their decision was overturned by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in August 2021, successfully arguing that it had taken too long for the judge responsible for determining the difficult to publish the written reasons for the rejection of one of the Charter applications they had filed.
But the trafficking charge was not dropped. Instead, a new trial was ordered. Faced with legal possibilities, both men pleaded guilty.
Through it all, Eheler served the equivalent of five years, but he also proved himself by getting bail and violating release conditions. In one case, Eheler was allowed out of prison despite being arrested with a fraudulent passport in his cousin’s name. The travel document was issued to Tyler Van Basten with Eheler’s photo, and facial recognition software used by Global Affairs Canada spotted the difference.
He violated the conditions again two months later and was released again. Judge David Albert of Surrey made the decision each time.
Jessop told the court his client had endured “a remarkably difficult childhood and overcome great adversity during his formative years”.
“Despite this, he takes full responsibility for the offenses that brought him before the court today and for the choices he made as an adult,” the lawyer said. “He expressed a desire to help young people in the community who may fall into the same traps that Mr. Eheler fell into and which landed him in court, and that is not just a comment hollow. He worked with his bail supervisor and volunteered in the community for this purpose.
Eheler’s sentence includes a lifetime weapons ban.