“Your honour, it’s in your hands.”
With that, convicted cocaine trafficker Serenus Charlene Bryan ended an hour-long sentencing hearing on Thursday afternoon in the Yellowknife Courthouse.
The 52-year-old grandmother – dealing with her fourth trafficking conviction; the sixth criminal conviction of her life – had been asked by Supreme Court Justice Karan Shaner if she had anything to say on her behalf.
Bryan admitted she had a decades-long drug habit, addicted to both cocaine and prescription opiates, and said she wants to attend an extended residential treatment program.
“It hasn’t always been this way,” she said, her voice shaking. “I didn’t even start using drugs until I was 25 years old.”
After two failed relationships, she continued, the addiction “started to spiral out of control.”
“I just want to deal with it once and for all and be done with it,” said Bryan. “It has cost me so much in my life … my family … I still believe I have a lot to offer and want to be there for my grandchildren.”
The Crown called for Bryan to spend eight months behind bars and be placed on probation for one year.
Prosecutor Duane Praught said there are a “number of vulnerable people who suffer from addiction” in the NWT and whose lives have been ruined by cocaine and other hard drugs.
As a trafficker, Bryan also had a level of premeditation and planning, he said.
“This is not a victimless crime, this crime has consequences in this community and other communities,” said Praught.
Bryan told the court serious health issues, including a chronic disease and recent full knee replacement, had prevented her from seeking a lengthy residential treatment program.
Her bail conditions included a 7pm to 7am curfew which, it was said, had prevented her from attending several family events outside the NWT.
Those included the funeral of her stepbrother – who died from an overdose – alongside the birth of her granddaughter, and her elderly mother’s recovery from an operation.
Defence lawyer Stephen Smith argued his client should receive six months and be placed on probation for 12 to 18 months.
However, due to the lengthy time Bryan was on bail – and the hardships posed by the overnight curfew and restrictions not to travel outside of the NWT – Smith said she should spend no time in jail, her time effectively already being served.
He estimated each day of the 20 months Bryan spent on bail under those bail conditions, including that 12-hour overnight curfew, should count as one-third time.
That would mean Bryan had already served the jail time the Crown requested.
Smith characterized Bryan as being a “lower-level, non-commercial” dealer, but acknowledged drugs are a serious problem in the NWT.
Bryan was among more than a dozen people arrested in 2016 following an RCMP operation called Green Manalishi.
Evidence at trial included a wiretap that allowed RCMP to listen in on drug kingpin Todd Dube and others. Ontario resident Dube, 22, was sentenced in the fall of 2017 to nine years for conspiring to traffic in cocaine, fentanyl, ecstasy and other drugs.
At her trial, police alleged Bryan was purchasing drugs with the goal of settling a drug debt of her own with Dube.
In early November, a jury found Bryan guilty of trafficking cocaine but not guilty of trafficking fentanyl.
Shaner reserved her sentencing decision until February 5 at 1:30pm.