It took nearly nine years for Clayton Allen Archie Eheler to wind his way through the court system, and it all culminated with a six-minute sentencing hearing Wednesday (Sept. 13).
The 41-year-old appeared in person at the Chilliwack Law Courts to receive the verdict from B.C. Provincial Judge Peter Dohm on a possession for the purpose of trafficking charge dating all the way back to 2014. Dohm wasted little time green-lighting a joint submission between Crown and defence lawyer Bill Jessop. Both sides arrived at a seven-year global sentence, with Eheler credited with five years already served.
That leaves two years additional jail time.
“I take full responsibility for what happened,” Eheler told the court. “It was nobody else’s fault but my own and I want to move on with my life and move forward.”
On Nov. 26, 2014 police executed a search warrant on an apartment building on Brett Avenue, which runs from Edward Street to Mary Street near Chilliwack General Hospital. Eheler and co-accused Matthew Thiessen were seen entering the building and Eheler was arrested on the balcony below a unit where officers found 7.8 grams of powdered cocaine and 1.25 grams of crack cocaine. They also found around 22 kilograms of an unknown white powder, a vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags and other drug trafficking equipment.
Eheler pleaded guilty April 3, 2023, but he fought hard before finally conceding. Eheler and Thiessen both filed multiple Charter challenges. They were convicted in November 2019, but had it overturned in the B.C. Court of Appeal in August 2021, successfully arguing that it took too long for the sentencing judge to release his written reasons for rejecting one of the charter applications that they’d filed.
But the trafficking charge wasn’t dropped. Instead, a new trial was ordered. Out of legal options, both men pleaded guilty.
As all of this has unfolded, Eheler has served the equivalent of five years, but he’s also proven at getting bail and violating release conditions. In one instance, Eheler was allowed out of jail despite being caught with a fraudulent passport in his cousin’s name. The travel document was issued to Tyler Van Basten with Eheler’s picture, and facial recognition software used by Global Affairs Canada spotted the discrepancy.
He violated conditions again two months later, and again was set free. Surrey Judge David Albert made the decision both times.
Jessop told the court that his client endured a “remarkably difficult childhood and overcame substantial adversity in his formative years.”
“Notwithstanding that, he takes full responsibility for the offences that have brought him before the court here today, and the choices he’s made as an adult,” the lawyer said. “He has expressed a desire to assist youth in the community who may fall into the same pitfalls that Mr. Eheler fell into that brought him before the courts, and that’s not just a hollow comment. He has worked with his bail supervisor and volunteered in the community in an effort to do so.”
Eheler’s sentence includes a lifetime weapons prohibition.