A 52-year-old Yellowknife woman convicted of trafficking cocaine is heading to jail, despite her lawyer urging the court to sentence her to time served.

Serenus Bryan was convicted by a jury in November on one count of trafficking cocaine. She was acquitted of trafficking fentanyl.

Bryan was arrested in 2016 as part of Project Green Manalishi, a large-scale RCMP investigation into drug trafficking in the territory and its capital that targeted two illicit networks.

Jurors listened to wiretapped calls between Bryan and the leader of one of those drug networks, Todd Dube, where she was heard arranging to buy and sell cocaine. Bryan’s drug debts, along with how much cocaine she had sold, were also discussed.

No physical evidence was ever tied to Bryan.

Justice Karan Shaner later ruled Bryan trafficked cocaine on a “social” or low-level, mainly to support her own addiction to cocaine and opiates.

Bryan’s lawyer, Steve Smith, submitted his client should be sentenced to time served, followed by 12 to 18 months of probation, given what he argued were restrictive and onerous release conditions.

Bryan was barred from leaving the NWT, can’t use a cellphone and was ordered to abide by a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew. Smith asked Shaner to give Bryan credit for each day she spent on bail, which would amount to six months, or time served. Bryan, Smith said, was prevented from seeking addictions treatment due to the conditions.

Shaner rejected the recommendation Tuesday.

“(The conditions were) entirely ordinary with minimal restrictions to freedom,” said Shaner in NWT Supreme Court.

Shaner added Bryan was not on house arrest, and called the hours of her curfew “minimal.”

Shaner accepted the Crown’s recommendation of eight months in jail, followed by a year of probation. Shaner acknowledged a jail term would delay Bryan’s plans to seek treatment, but stressed the court had to uphold the law.

“This is the criminal justice system, not the health-care system,” said Shaner.


Cocaine hurts all of us, not just addicts’

Shaner acknowledged the challenges Bryan has faced in life, including addictions and abuse.

Bryan’s story is “indeed tragic,” said Shaner, but she “broke the law,” and contributed to the tragedies of other addicts.

“Cocaine hurts all of us — not just addicts,” she added.

Despite calls from the Crown, Shaner did not impose a DNA order or a drugs and alcohol consumption ban, telling Bryan she need to make her own choices to stop using drugs. Following her jail term, Bryan will be banned from owning weapons for life.

Bryan, who remained out of custody until sentencing Tuesday, hugged a supporter goodbye before being taken into custody by RCMP.


Brendan Burke

As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility...

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