OHL prospect falls into drug addiction, ends up in court

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Alex Kurial/Local Journalism Initiative

Kevin Johnston was an athletic teenager with a promising hockey career ahead of him. But a devastating injury sent him spiralling down a near deadly path.
Instead of appearing before fans in arenas, Johnston has found himself in and out of courtrooms. His latest appearance, April 8 in Sarnia Court, was to plead guilty to fentanyl possession and impaired driving.
Defence Lawyer Terry Brandon says her client had been a standout defenceman in junior hockey, even courted by the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. But a career ending injury sidelined that dream before it began.
The injury also led Johnston, 25, to experiment with pain killing drugs. Starting off with marijuana and lower grade pills, Johnston’s addiction escalated into reliance on some of the most powerful opioids on the market.
“Like we hear with many who start with an injury and move themselves into pills or self-medication… it’s a slippery slope,” says Brandon.
Johnston was arrested in September when Sarnia Police received a call of an impaired man at the Capel Street Esso station. Officers arrived and found Johnston next to his Jeep unsteady and barely able to keep his eyes open. Multiple bags of fentanyl were found on Johnston and he later failed a drug test.
“Your lawyer has set out what is really a very tragic story that lands you now before the court struggling… for some time with an addiction to a dangerous and lethal drug,” says Justice Krista Leszczynski.
“You have suffered the consequences that come with an addiction like this now time and time again,” says Leszczynski. “Your life is in your hands right now and this is a turning point for you to make some hard decisions and to take some strong action to address this issue for your own well-being and your own safety as well as that of the community.”
Leszczynski gave Johnston a three month conditional sentence which he will serve in the community.
The first 60 days will be house arrest with the last month under curfew and he can’t have any drugs or alcohol during this time.
Johnston was also sentenced to a year of probation to include counselling for substance abuse. He was fined $1,200 and banned from driving for a year on the impaired charge.

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