Ian "Whitey" MacDonald was on the run for more than three decades. On Wednesday, the 72-year-old faced a Manitoba court judge to be sentenced for conspiracy to import marijuana.

"I have never been in jail before. I never had a criminal record before so this is all something very new to me," said MacDonald.

MacDonald was the focus of a year-long police investigation in the late 1970's. He was believed to be a key player in a marijuana drug-smuggling ring. First arrested in 1980, he escaped from custody five months later and would spend the next 32 years on the run.

For the next three decades MacDonald lived a normal life. That came to an end last November when he was captured in Florida and sent back to Manitoba to face charges in the case that dates back to 1979.

"What we see in the court room today is really…sad," said his lawyer, Sheldon Pinx. "This is not the man that he was. This is not the man that I think everybody expected to see. But at 72-years-of-age, MacDonald is reaching the end of the line regrettably."

MacDonald pleaded guilty for his role in shipping marijuana to Winnipeg but he won't be serving any more time in jail as per a joint recommendation made by the Crown and defence.

MacDonald's co-conspirators served seven to eight years in jail. MacDonald was given two years less a day of house arrest.

The recommendation was made partly because of the man's deteriorating health. He has a number of medical conditions including prostate cancer. Because of that, doctors say he has no more than three years left to live.

His two daughters hadn't seen or heard from him for more than 30 years. They came to Winnipeg from California to be by their father's side for the sentencing.

MacDonald says he's grateful to be given the chance to live out the rest of his days close to the family he almost lost.

He will be allowed to leave his house for four hours per day if accompanied by his wife or children.

-With a report from CTV's Caroline Barghout