Partner gets 15 months
RCMP nabbed pair fast

by Chris Meyers Almey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 28/97) - The partner in a $25,000 short-lived drug pedalling onslaught on Yellowknife has been sentenced to 15 months in jail.

Orville Wanechko was charged with possession of narcotics for trafficking after police discovered he was holding 102 grams of hash with a street value of $2,400, a crime that could bring a lengthy sentence.

But Crown prosecutor Diane Sylvain told territorial court Judge Brian Bruser on Tuesday that the same information applied in this case as for Bryan Howard Simmonds, who was sentenced to 12 months in jail last week.

Simmonds' lawyer, Robert Gorin, had told the court that his client knew nothing of the drugs until he arrived in Yellowknife to visit his wife's relatives just before Christmas.

He said that Wanechko had asked to come along to look for work and only learned of the drugs once they were here.

Not so, said Wanechko's lawyer, Ken Allison, on Tuesday. "They were in it together from the start, no matter what was said. It was a joint effort."

The pair have known each other for years and Simmonds "knew what he was doing and was a partner."

Allison said this to give guidance to the court in sentencing Wanechko, saying the time in jail shouldn't be too far apart.

"We're not discussing a hardened criminal," Allison said, noting that Wanechko had been in jail since Dec. 21 when RCMP raided the apartment the pair were staying at.

Sylvain asked the judge to sentence Wanechko to between 18 and 24 months, but pointed out Simmonds was free on an Alberta lieutenant- governor's warrant (over a 1975 killing for which he was found not guilty by reason of insanity) so a 12-month sentence wouldn't mean the end of his problem.

Noting there has been a continual growth in the narcotics trade in the Northwest Territories since 1965, Bruser said that Wanechko would have got a longer sentence than 15 months, but for the fact that Simmonds received a year.