Cocaine trafficker sentenced to 26 months
Judge takes exception to defence contention that NWT courts are issuing lighter drug sentences
A Yellowknife judge disagreed that there's a trend toward lighter sentences for cocaine trafficking in the N.W.T. as she sentenced a Burnaby man to just over two years in prison on drug charges.
On Thursday, N.W.T. Supreme Court Justice Shannon Smallwood sentenced Hassen Abdul Kerim Mohamed to 26 months for possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
Mohamed was also sentenced to 30 days for possessing marijuana, which will be served at the same time as the cocaine sentence. With credit for time served, Mohamed has just over 23 months left to serve.
At a sentencing hearing earlier in the week, Mohamed's lawyer had called for a sentence of nine months, saying judges in the Northwest Territories have been delivering shorter sentences to low level cocaine traffickers over the last three years.
"I don't think there's been a downward trend in sentencing in cases in this jurisdiction," said Smallwood as she delivered her sentence. The judge said every case and every offender is different, and judges must take that into account when they sentence offenders.
Mohamed was arrested on April 15, 2015, after an RCMP emergency response team broke in the door of a Finlayson Drive townhouse in Yellowknife, and found Mohamed leaving the upstairs bathroom.
After arresting him, police found a bag of cocaine between his legs. There was cocaine and marijuana, some of which was packaged for distribution, laying on tables and counters in the home.
At the time, Mohamed was already facing drug charges in British Columbia.
Letters of support
During his sentencing hearing, Mohamed suddenly started crying as Cunningham summarized letters of support his mother and sister had written.
The sister said Mohamed has always had some sort of anxiety or depression since attending high school during civil war in his home country of Eritrea. She believes trauma he suffered during that time has made him more vulnerable to addictions.
Cunningham said at different times, Mohamed has been addicted to cocaine, heroin, opiates, alcohol and gambling.
But the Crown said there was no sign that Mohamed was using any of the drugs found in the house where he was arrested.
"The motivation here was selling cocaine for money, for profit," said prosecutor Duane Praught. "That's why Mr. Mohamed came up here to the North."
Cunningham said that since being arrested, Mohamed has spent a year and nine months in a residential addictions treatment program. She said he deserves credit for the efforts he's made to deal with his addictions.
Justice Shannon Smallwood is scheduled to sentence Mohamed on Thursday afternoon.