Handless Victoria drug smuggler avoids jail due to disabilities
A Victoria man with no hands who ingested $204,000 worth of heroin and smuggled it into Canada three years ago will be allowed to serve his jail sentence at home in the community.
Terry Bazzani, 39, was arrested June 28, 2006, at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson airport after arriving on a flight from Bogota, Colombia. He was charged under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and pleaded guilty to importing heroin on Sept. 2.
During his two-day sentencing hearing, federal prosecutor Dirk Ryneveld argued that Bazzani should not be allowed to avoid prison because of his disability.
His defence lawyer Jordan Watt insisted Bazzani would be isolated and not be able to defend himself in prison because of his physical limitations. Watt also argued that Bazzani would not be cared for properly in an institution.
“Whatever sentence is imposed on Mr. Bazzani is likely to be more harsh,” Justice Keith Bracken said today, imposing a conditional sentence of two years less a day.
For the first six months of his sentence, Bazzani was obey an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, followed by an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for a further six months. Bazzani must provide a DNA sample and must also abstain absolutely from drugs and alcohol.
Bracken also imposed a 10-year weapons prohibition.
Bazzani appeared overjoyed, wrapping his new wife and friends in a hug.
Ryneveld, who had been seeking a three- to five-year sentence, seemed satisfied with Bracken’s decision, saying it’s unlikely Bazzani will re-offend in the near future.
At the sentencing hearing, Bazzani testified that his multiple disabilities which include an abnormality of his mouth, no hands, shortened arms, a concave chest and a partial left foot with fused toes, were the result of his birth mother taking drugs. He never met his birth mother and spent the first two years of his life in hospital.
Throughout his life, he has been cared for by his foster parents, girlfriends and live-in caregivers. Without hands, he can’t dress himself or do up buttons. He can’t brush his teeth or shave his face. He can eat sandwiches, but nothing requiring utensils.
After his arrest, he spent five weeks in custody at Maplehurst maximum security institution in Ontario. During that time, no one brushed his teeth or fed him or looked after his personal needs.
The case began in June 2006 when Canadian Border Services Agency received a tip from a confidential source identifying Bazzani as a drug courier.
When he stepped off the early-morning flight from Colombia, the customs inspector immediately recognized Bazzani because of his shortened arms.
After being held for a few hours, Bazzani admitted he had swallowed 85 pellets containing 510 grams of heroin. He was taken to hospital and passed 48 heroin tablets in the next few hours, then was transferred to a holding cell at the airport, where he continued to pass heroin tablets.
Yesterday, Bazzani testified he had travelled to Colombia to be with a woman he'd met online.
In May 2006, Bazzani, who was unemployed and living on a disability pension, met two men at a bar who asked him to smuggle drugs back into Canada for $10,000. They told him it was a safe and easy way to make money.
BY LOUISE DICKSON, TIMES COLONISTOCTOBER 26, 2009 5:02 PM