Man earns jail time for Days Inn drug bust

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Brandon Leach, 19, was sentenced Friday in territorial court to five months in jail for possession of cocaine and possession of proceeds of crime. The conviction related to an incident that happened at the Days Inn hotel last summer. NNSL file photo

A 19-year-old man has been sentenced to five months in jail followed by 18 months of probation after being found unconscious with drugs on on his person last August.

Brandon Leach was convicted of possession of proceeds obtained by crime and possession of cocaine.

He and two other men were originally charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000 for the incident  but he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges.

According to a statement of facts read in territorial court Friday, the RCMP were called to a disturbance at the Days Inn on Franklin Avenue, near 44 Street, on the evening of Aug. 24.

When they arrived, Leach was lying unconscious outside a hotel room.

They found two 0.7-gram bags of cocaine and $1,325 in cash during a search incidental to his arrest, the statement said.

After obtaining a search warrant for the room, RCMP also found a significant quantity of cocaine, cash, cellphones and drug paraphernalia associated with trafficking.

Leach later provided a statement to police, telling them he came from Grand Prairie, Alta., to sell cocaine so he could help a friend pay off a debt, the statement said.

Crown prosecutor Brendan Green recommended Judge Christine Gagnon hand Leach a sentence of 10 to 12 months jail time, plus one year of probation, for the offences.

Leach’s defense lawyer Niko Homberg suggested a three-month sentence would be more appropriate, plus a longer probation period, although he didn’t specify how long.

Leach had a chance to express his regrets to the court before hearing his sentence.

“I’m very sorry for the mistakes I made,” Leach said, adding he wanted to apologize for the suffering he caused his family.

He told the judge he is no longer surrounding himself with negative people and hopes to better his life.

Gagnon said Leach’s actions could be considered a mistake, albeit a “serious” one.

She said she was satisfied he has learned from his actions, but stressed she must impose a sentence that both requires him to a pay a consequence while deterring other young people from falling into the same situation.

She suggested young, inexperienced people such as Leach, who has just one previous conviction on his criminal record for mischief, are easy targets for higher-level traffickers.

Gagnon ultimately handed Leach a sentence of five months for possession of proceeds of crime and one month concurrent for possession of cocaine.

He is required to spend 18 months on probation following jail time, in which he must participate in any counselling or treatment programs suggested by his probation officer.

He is also prohibited from owning more than one cell phone, from carrying more than $100 in cash on him and must pay $400 in victim-of-crime surcharges.

Leach’s family, who now lives in New Brunswick, was also in court Friday to show support for their son.

His mother, Wendy Leach, told Yellowknifer she felt he was taken advantage of by drug dealers.

“Hopefully these young kids learn their lesson,” she said.