CORNWALL – A Cornwall man, enticed into human smuggling to provide for his family, will be spending two years in prison.
Carter Cook, 24, was sentenced Thursday (Jan. 26) in a Cornwall courtroom.
He had pleaded guilty on Nov. 17, 2016 to two counts under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) of aiding and abetting foreign nationals to enter Canada as well as one count of conspiracy.
Court heard three Chinese migrants were found in a car with Cook, who were stopped by Akwesasne Mohawk Police in February last year. They had been identified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as acting suspiciously while in Massena, N.Y.
The Chinese migrants have since been deported, court heard.
Cook’s sentencing was settled through a joint submission, where the prosecution and defence work out an appropriate sentence before the accused enters a plea. The sentence is the maximum based on a summary conviction under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
During Thursday’s proceedings, the Crown argued the penitentiary sentence was needed to deter the general public from smuggling illegals across the border.
Crown attorney Emma Beauchamp also took into account that Cook was a first time offender and had taken “considerable steps to change his life” such as going back to school and finding a job.
Cook’s lawyer, Bill Wade, acknowledged that these were “very serious charges.”
“I’m particularly pleased, in this instance, to say that Carter’s folks have remained supportive of Carter throughout and are present today as well as his girlfriend,” Wade said.
Cook also addressed the court. “I realize what I did was wrong. I was just trying to provide for my family around Christmas time. I have no high school education and I had no job. I realize what I did was wrong and completely take whatever is coming to me. I’m going to deal with it. I have a lot friends who love me and support me,” he said.
Cook, along with some family members, started sobbing as he spoke about his child. “My son…I love him. I’m just trying to be the person (for him to look up to)…ya know?”
Judge Franco Giamberardino told Cook there were “a number of positive features” in his pre-sentence report as well as his addressing of the court and recommended Cook be a candidate for early parole.
“I’m certainly prepared to recommend that they consider you for temporary absence for any rehabilitative purpose or health related purpose,” Giamberardino said.
When asked by the judge, Cook indicated he would be open to accessing treatment programs to help in his recovery.
After his prison sentence, he will be on probation for three years.
“Thank you Mr. Cook. Good luck,” Giamberardino said as he was led out of the courtroom by the bailiff.