A Kelowna woman with addiction and mental health issues was sentenced to 50 days in jail last month for selling small amounts of fentanyl to an undercover police officer.
In B.C. Supreme Court, the woman was found guilty of two counts of possessing fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking on April 9, but wasn’t sentenced until Sept. 18.
The judgement was posted this week, with Justice Leonard Marchand issuing the sentence — two years after the woman was originally busted on Sept. 16, 2017.
According to the court document, police believed the woman, 43, and another woman were shooting up in an alley behind Interior Savings Credit Union on Richter Street on that day.
The officer who witnessed the alleged incident then directed an undercover officer to interact with them. Eventually, the undercover officer purchased drugs from the suspect twice that day, with each sale worth $20.
The first time involved a crumbly brown and greyish powder that the officer believed to be heroin. The second involved a white substance, with the suspect woman warning the officer “to be careful if he was smoking the drug because of its high potency.”
Subsequent testing revealed that the first package, including the baggie, weighed 0.23 grams and the second package, including the flap, weighed 0.35 grams. Both packages contained fentanyl.
The court document said during the trial the woman did not dispute that the officer purchased the drugs but denied that she had sold them to him.
“During the sentencing hearing, however, (the woman) acknowledged that she had sold controlled substances to Corporal MacIntyre,” the justice wrote in the decision.
“(The woman) maintained that she thought she sold Cpl. MacIntyre heroin. She also characterized the transactions as being more along the lines of one addict sharing her personal supply with another addict who was sick and in need.”
A pre-sentence report was issued, which the justice called detailed and thoughtfully prepared.
The woman is said to be of Metis heritage who was born in Toronto and raised there before moving to Los Angeles at age 10. In L.A., she completed Grades 4-10 before returning to Toronto.
While growing up, the justice said her “her childhood was full of dislocation, fragmentation, abuse, and neglect,” including little to no contact with her Metis father.
As an adult, the woman completed high school and attended a post-secondary institution before moving to Victoria, then Kelowna, and marrying twice.
The justice noted that she began using alcohol and cannabis as a teenager, then cocaine as an adult. However, court noted that she was clean and sober between 2005-08, but that following a motor vehicle accident in 2016, she became addicted to morphine for pain management, which led to addiction to heroin, and homelessness.
The justice also noted that since April 4, 2017, she had 17 convictions, including six convictions of possession.
“Between her last offence on May 25, 2018, and the imposition of her most recent custodial sentence in June 2019, (the woman) made significant progress in dealing with many of the hurdles she was facing,” said the justice.
He noted that she received counselling and support services on a drop‑in basis, addictions counselling, completed relapse prevention and partially completed a women’s group program.
The justice said in determining a fit sentence, he had to balance the seriousness of selling fentanyl against her childhood traumas, an abusive relationship, mental health issues, disconnecting from her Métis heritage, losing her children to provincial care, becoming highly drug addicted and homeless.
“After carefully considering all the circumstances, I consider (the woman’s) case to be exceptional,” said the justice, adding she was facing and is in the process of overcoming a complex combination of very significant traumas.
She was sentenced to 50 days in jail plus probation for three years after her release.
The woman’s long list of probation conditions include a curfew, counselling as required, 160 hours of community service, and not possessing or consuming alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances.
The justice closed his sentencing by wishing the woman “continued success in turning your life around.”
Note: Global News has chosen not to identify the woman because of her children.