A long-haul trucker has lost his job and will spend a month in jail after pleading guilty to sneaking a man into Canada this summer.
Andrew Blackmore, 39 from Woodstock, was in Sarnia court Aug. 26 to hear his sentence. The Crown detailed how Blackmore met 33-year-old New Mexico native Christopher Ramirez through online dating. The pair began talking and met up this summer near the Texas/Louisiana border during one of Blackmore’s work trips to the States.
Blackmore and Ramirez decided to return to Canada, but on the drive Ramirez admitted his passport had been seized by New Mexico authorities. Ramirez said he was facing some charges in the state, but didn’t reveal that he had spent four years in prison for smuggling heroin.
Blackmore told Ramirez since he didn’t have a passport he’d have to hide in the bunk of his semitruck as they crossed the border. The pair crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Canada on Aug. 10. Blackmore used his ‘FAST’ border pass for a quicker screening. Blackmore and Ramirez then went to Woodstock.
The arrangement fell apart just three days later though when Woodstock Police were called to the Econo Lodge over a domestic dispute. Court heard that the argument started when Ramirez said he wanted to return to the U.S. Police handed Ramirez over to Canadian Border Services, and Blackmore turned himself in the next day.
Blackmore’s company immediately fired him and ordered him to surrender his truck. The conviction means he can no longer work in the States due to the country’s “moral turpitude” law.
“This will effect him in his trade and haunt his earning potential for the rest of his life,” defence lawyer Robert McFadden says.
A joint position called for 30 days in jail for Blackmore. With time served he has 12 days remaining. Crown attorney Michael Robb acknowledged that the position was lenient, as the Public Prosecution Service had suggested six months.
Justice Deborah Austin also felt more jail time could have been served, especially since the border is closed to all non-essential travel over COVID-19 concerns and this incident could have put people at risk. But Austin ultimately agreed that Blackmore’s loss of livelihood was already a serious punishment.
Ramirez appeared in the same courtroom earlier in the day and was also sentenced to 30 days in jail. The New Mexico man has 10 days left to serve after pre-sentence custody. After his release he will be deported to the United States.