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Crack dealer convicted

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 17/06) - Ndilo resident Peter Turner must serve 11 months for trafficking cocaine and another month for a related weapons offense, said Chief Justice J.E. Richard in Yellowknife Supreme Court Wednesday.

Despite not being in possession of crack cocaine at the time of his arrest, the 22-year-old was convicted Tuesday on one count of trafficking the controlled substance and for possession of a switchblade.

The charges stemmed from a Dec. 2005 drug bust outside Hollywood Video, where RCMP Const. Matt Hare arranged to meet Turner to purchase some "rock," according to the officer's testimony.

Hare told the court a "reliable source" provided him with a cell phone number of a "local drug dealer" who would deliver and sell marijuana or crack cocaine.

After arranging the deal and meeting place in two calls to the number, Hare hid in the bushes near Hollywood Video. When a male approached, Hare made a third call to the same number and when Turner answered, he was arrested. Turner was in possession of one gram of marijuana and a switchblade at the time.

Turner's attorney James Mahon argued his client had been entrapped, contending that prior to the arrest Hare did not know the identity of Turner and therefore had no reasonable suspicion he was dealing drugs.

Prosecuting attorney Brendan Hubly countered that not only was Hare careful in arranging the drug deal by allowing Turner to introduce the subject of drugs, but that cell phones were the modern-day tool used by dealers and buyers to contact each other.

"This is the cellular age... you're not going to get John Doe wearing an old jean jacket on the corner," said Hubly. "Dealers are not ignorant to the law. They're educated as to what they can get away with."

Richard sided with the position when rendering his verdict.

"(The arranged drug deal) was hardly a random inquiry," said Richard. "Const. Hare had sufficient reasonable suspicion that the person answering the cell phone was dealing crack and marijuana (and) there was nothing unfair about it."

During sentencing Wednesday, Richard referred to those involved in the cocaine trade as, "Vultures or predators preying on the weak members of the community."

"For this reason alone they ought to be punished... (and) because of the prevalence of this type of crime in our community a conditional sentence is not available."