Man sentenced to death in China had prior drug convictions in Abbotsford

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, found guilty of smuggling 222 kg of meth

A man sentenced to death in China on Monday for his role in a 2014 drug-smuggling operation has previously served two jail terms for drug crimes in Abbotsford.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, formerly of Abbotsford, was sentenced to one year in prison in February 2010 and two years of probation on three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, according to the online provincial court database.

He was also charged with four more offences – two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and two counts of possession of a controlled substance – in August 2011.

That case went to trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack, and Schellenberg was convicted of all four charges in 2012 and sentenced to two years in prison. Minus credit for time in pre-trial custody, Schellenberg spent another 16 months in jail.

All of these charges were based in Abbotsford.

Schellenberg on Monday was sentenced to death after being convicted in the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in the Liaoning Province of drug smuggling. He has an opportunity to appeal the decision.

Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones of Maryland, said in an emailed statement that this is the “worst-case fear confirmed” for his family.

“Our thoughts are with Robert at this time. It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking. It is a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation. We anxiously anticipate any news regarding an appeal,” she said.

Later in the day, an additional statement was issued by the Schellenberg family.

“The Schellenberg family cares deeply about our Robert, who is being held under very difficult circumstances in China. As a family we are communicating with our Member of Parliament, Mr. Ed Fast, who is working hard on our behalf to ensure that the Trudeau government makes every effort to secure fair treatment for Robert,” the statement read.

“The Schellenberg family requests that all Canadians stand with us and pray for the safe return of our loved one.”

RELATED: MP Ed Fast calls on PM to intervene in drug-smuggling death sentence in China

Schellenberg was initially handed a 15-year prison term in November 2018 but appealed the sentence, and a re-trial was then ordered after prosecutors argued that his sentence was too light.

An official court account of the case published online states that Schellenberg was involved in an international drug-trafficking scheme in which drugs were to be hidden in plastic pellets in tires and shipped to Australia.

The documents state that Schellenberg asked a translator who was hired to assist in the operation to purchase tools for repacking drugs, as well as tire liners, tires, inner tubes and containers.

They also say that Schellenberg called another man involved in the operation and asked him to help find another warehouse to store the drugs.

The operation fell apart when the translator, Xu, went to the authorities, according to the court account.

Schellenberg got wind of this and boarded a plane at Dalian Airport in an attempt to flee to Thailand. But he was arrested when the plane stopped in Guangzhou – in southern China – and he was found to be helping to smuggle 222 kilograms of methamphetamine, according to the online report.

The drugs were seized by police, but the report doesn’t say where they were found.

RELATED: China demands Canada release Huawei executive arrested in Vancouver

RELATED: China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

The Dalian Intermediate People’s court stated in its account that prosecutors presented “physical evidence, documentary evidence, on-site investigation transcripts, drug identification opinions, confession of another defendant, witness testimony and other evidence in court.”

As well, the witness Xu testified.

Schellenberg’s defence was that he was a tourist visiting China, and he was framed by criminals, according to reports from some of the foreign media who attended the trial and sentencing.

The sentence comes after China detained two Canadians in December in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a Chinese technology executive.

Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, raising tensions between Canada and China.


@VikkiHopes
vhopes@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Firefighters extinguish early-morning blaze in Rossland

Neighbour alerted family of four, no injuries reported

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Senior curling provincials setting up for exciting finish

Standings tight as Senior curling teams push for provincial playoffs

Police share more details on occupants and suspicious van in Fruitvale

Vehicle in question offered young girl a ride to school on Feb. 19

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read