A Yellowknife woman has been sentenced to 19 months in jail for trafficking crack cocaine, after she was caught swallowing crack that she had been selling while pregnant.

Kara Marie Dennill, 20, was handed the jail sentence on Monday by N.W.T. Supreme Court Justice Virginia Schuler, who told Dennill in court, "Believe me, it gives me no pleasure to send a young mother to jail."

Court heard that Dennill was 18 years old and pregnant with her first child when Yellowknife RCMP caught her selling crack cocaine twice in January and February of 2009, during a police crackdown on a "dial-a-drug" operation in the N.W.T. capital.

When Dennill was caught the second time, she swallowed the two grams of crack cocaine she was carrying in an attempt to hide it, even though she was nearly eight months pregnant.

RCMP officers took Dennill to hospital, where she vomited up the drugs, court heard.

Crown attorneys said the fact that she swallowed the drugs while pregnant was likely a significant factor in her jail sentence.

"Certainly from the Crown's view, that was a very aggravating aspect of this offence," prosecutor Glen Boyd told CBC News outside court on Monday.

"Not only in deciding to do that did she endanger her own health, but also the health of her unborn baby."

Pregnant again

Dennill is currently two months pregnant with her second child, her lawyer announced in court on Monday.

Jay Bran asked for a 16-month conditional sentence to be served at the home of Dennill's adoptive parents, arguing that his client has taken full responsibility for her crimes.

But Schuler ruled that her parents already have their hands full caring for Dennill's son.

As well, the judge said she was not confident Dennill would abide by her sentence.

A pre-sentencing report said Dennill continues to smoke marijuana — a sign she is still connected to the drug trade, Schuler said.

The report also stated that Dennill's parents believe jail time would be necessary to turn their daughter around. Her father confirmed that statement in court on Friday, saying his daughter should pay the price for the crimes she had committed.

Boyd argued that Dennill's parents have tried every agency and service available to help their adoptive daughter, but to no avail.

Schuler said while she took no pleasure in sending Dennill to jail before the holidays, she said some children in Yellowknife would not have much of a Christmas this year because their parents had spent their money on drugs.