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Crown seeks 45 months jail for man arrested with four guns in downtown Vancouver

Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Police seized two loaded handguns, a rifle, three shotguns, three assault style rifles and a replica Uzi on April 5 after officers pulled over a man driving a car near Thurlow and Hastings Street.  (Postmedia File Photo)

Vancouver Police seized two loaded handguns, a rifle, three shotguns, three assault style rifles and a replica Uzi on April 5 after officers pulled over a man driving a car near Thurlow and Hastings Street. (Postmedia File Photo)

A man who was arrested after Vancouver police seized four guns from him during a routine traffic stop should spend 45 months in jail, a prosecutor argued Wednesday.

Last November, Alexander Bell pleaded guilty to four firearms-related counts in connection with an incident in downtown Vancouver on April 5, 2014.

On that date, two police officers pulled over a black Cadillac being driven by Bell at the corner of Thurlow and West Hastings streets.

The cops intended to issue Bell tickets for two driving violations but when one of the officers approached the vehicle's driver side door and asked for Bell's driver's licence, she noticed his hands were shaking as he struggled to remove his licence from his wallet.

Bell was also sweating profusely and had bloodshot eyes. As there was no smell of alcohol coming from him, the officer suspected that he was under the influence of drugs and asked him to get out of the vehicle.

While administering a test to determine his sobriety, the officer noticed Bell had black straps around his shoulder area, a sign he could be wearing a firearm holster.

While conducting a safety search of Bell, the officers zipped his sweater down, revealing a holster with two handguns.

One of the firearms was a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol with one round in the chamber. The prohibited firearm, for which Bell had no licence, had been smuggled into Canada from the United States, where its last known purchaser was in Washington state.

The other weapon — another loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol — also had a cartridge in the chamber as well as a magazine with eight cartridges of ammunition.

That firearm was made in Canada but ended up in the United States and was likely smuggled back into Canada, Crown counsel Michelle Merry told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes during sentencing submissions.

Items seized on his person included two cellphones wrapped in tin foil, three key cards to two luxury hotels, a black knife and about $1,200 in various denominations.

When the vehicle was searched, police found a gym bag in the back seat. Inside the bag were a loaded sawed-off shotgun and a rifle as well as more than $32,000 in cash.

"They're designed to shoot people," Merry said of the weapons seized by police. "They're not for hunting. That's not what this is. All of the firearms were concealed. They were all of course improperly stored."

The holster made the guns concealed yet readily accessible, she said.

In a report prepared for the sentencing, Bell claimed that he'd purchased the guns off the street and at the time of the arrest he was transporting them to a different location so he could properly store them.

But Merry said it was "very difficult" to put much weight on those claims because he'd transported the weapons in "possibly the most dangerous manner conceivable. Namely, loaded with rounds in the chamber of two of them, two of them concealed on his person and two in the back seat."

Terence LaLiberte, Bell's lawyer, is expected to give his sentencing submissions Friday.