'We just get to bury our kids,' Sentencing in landmark fentanyl case
Clutching pictures of her late son and holding back tears, Denise Lane reacts outside the courthouse to the sentencing of the man who admitted to selling a deadly mix of fentanyl and heroin that took Shawn Kelly Junior’s life.
“For the victim, there was no justice,” she says. “I was hoping for more for my son. My son deserved more than that. He was an amazing kid.”
The judge called Ryan Walker a ‘low level’ drug dealer and sentenced him to five years. The 25-year-old was then given credit for his “substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution” of his co-accused, Tahir Ali. With that, Walker received 3.5 years.
Walker pleaded guilty in December to drug trafficking and criminal negligence causing death.
Justice Harpur told the court that Walker’s “single-minded pursuit of a drug sale profit blinded him to the fact that he was furnishing to a friend a substance known by him to be potentially lethal. In the result, Mr. Kelly is dead.”
Walker’s lawyer had delayed sentencing in January and planned to retract his client’s guilty plea, but today, he told the court Walker decided to move forward.
“Ryan didn’t want to go back to square one and put the Kelly family through any more than they’ve already been through,” Walker’s mother says.
Nine-thousand Canadians have died from opioid overdoses between 2016 and 2018.
Kelly had struggled with drug addiction, but his mother claims her son had gotten clean and that she had no idea he had relapsed. She was the one who found his lifeless body in his bed. He leaves behind two young children.
Lane says a harsher sentence would have sent a strong message to others.
“For the drug dealers it was great for them,” she says. “Gives them the go-ahead to sell what they want. For the victim’s families, we just get to bury our kids.”
Walker also received credit for the time he already spent in custody, and extra credit for time spend in lockdown where the judge said conditions “aggravated Mr. Walker’s stress.” In the end, Walker will serve 13 months and 15 days behind bars for criminal negligence causing death.
His co-accused, Tahir Ali, faces manslaughter and trafficking charges. His case is still before the courts.