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An incarcerated Yellowknife drug trafficker who sought bail over Covid-19 concerns abandoned his effort to be released on April 17 — just hours before an NWT judge was set to hand down her decision on whether he’d be freed.

Darcy Oake, 25, made his case for a bail release ahead of his sentencing during an April 14 hearing. Oake was found guilty after trial last month on four charges related to possessing and distributing furanylfentanyl, a designer derivative of the potent opioid fentanyl.

Justice Shannon Smallwood convicted Oake of importing the drug; possessing it for the purpose of trafficking; trafficking furanylfentanyl — an offence he pleaded guilty to — and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Seldomly seen in drug cases, Smallwood found Oake guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm after he gave a dose of furanylfentanyl to a friend in November 2016. The woman subsequently overdosed and was hospitalized.

Oake, who admitted to ordering the drug over the “dark web” in late October 2016 using Bitcoin, picked up the mail-ordered opioid just hours before laying out a line for the victim, who testified during the weeks-long trial.

On April 14, Oake’s lawyer Peter Harte sought bail on behalf of his client, telling Smallwood that if Covid-19 reached North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC) — the Yellowknife corrections facility where he remains in custody — Oake would be put at risk.

At his bail hearing, Oake said practising physical distancing at the jail is next to impossible.

On April 17, Smallwood was set to give a decision on whether Oake would be released, but the bail application had been withdrawn earlier that morning.

“It’s being abandoned,” said Oake, who appeared via video from NSCC.

He’s consenting to stay behind bars pending his upcoming sentencing hearing, the date of which hasn’t been set yet.

Smallwood called the move “unusual” at this stage of the proceedings, but granted the application. She also granted an application to have Harte removed as Oake’s lawyer.
Harte, speaking over the phone — lawyers are calling in to proceedings amid Covid-19 — said it was necessary for him and his now former client to “part ways.”

The latest twist in a years-long case means Oake is currently without a lawyer, but Harte said he expects legal aid will facilitate counsel in the coming weeks.

Oake is due back in court on May 12 to set a date for a sentencing hearing.

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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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