Port Coquitlam man who 'terrorized' a woman at knifepoint given probation

The decision offers a window into how the justice system has worked to cut down its inmate population at a time when COVID-19 was running through several detention facilities across the province.

A Port Coquitlam man who 'terrorized' a woman at knifepoint for an unpaid drug debt has been sentenced to time served following a resolution without trial.

The decision, which occurred May 15 but was released late this week, offers a window into how the justice system has worked to cut down its inmate population at a time when COVID-19 was running through several detention facilities across the province, including North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam.

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In a relatively short proceeding, the justice notes how Lawrence Sami, 37, went from “virtually no criminal record” to having his life suddenly unravel.

In the past, Sami had worked as a social worker, and along with taking care of his now 13-year-old daughter, had "an absolutely normal successful life,” wrote the justice.

When he and his spouse split up, Sami became their daughter’s primary care giver. He moved to Vancouver Island and held a job at a Dodge dealership before another relationship fell apart and he moved back to Metro Vancouver to live with his parents. 

It was then that he started hanging out in downtown Vancouver and began using crystal methamphetamine with friends. The drug took over his life and he started spending most of his time on the Downtown Eastside, eventually mixing opioids with his crystal meth habit.

Court documents say that “he had essentially given up on life,” and had started selling drugs to ostensibly support his habit. When a woman he had sold drugs to didn’t pay up, Sami held a knife to her throat, terrorizing her, according to court documents.

In the justice’s decision, Sami is described as someone “very messed up on drugs,” whose sentence “certainly would have been years longer were [he] not a drug addict.”

Sami must now complete a two-year probation order, the first year of which he’ll spend at a Langley treatment facility, after which he is to live with his parents and daughter at their Port Coquitlam home.

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