Eight months after staff at an Inuvik hotel discovered a box filled with thousands of dollars worth of cocaine, the “trusted” courier who left it there was handed a 40 month prison sentence.

Thirty-six-year-old Shane Comeau of Inuvik was sentenced on July 23 in NWT Supreme Court after being convicted on one count of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

Comeau, representing himself after he told the court two lawyers had “quit on him,” was convicted by Deputy Judge Virginia Schuler after pleading guilty to the charge – a decision he mulled for nearly half an hour as he sat, head hung, in the prisoner’s booth.

In November of last year, the court heard through an agreed statement of facts, Comeau was seen inside Inuvik’s Nova Inn carrying a cardboard box while talking on a cellphone. Hotel staff, who recognized Comeau, watched him set the package on a lobby table before leaving in a taxi.

Employees opened the box – later seized by RCMP – and discovered 15 bottles containing 584 pre-packaged doses of cocaine, amounting to 286 grams or 10 ounces at a street value of more than $40,000.

He was arrested the next month in Norman Wells.

Comeau was paid by a friend to deliver the drugs destined for Inuvik. In court, Comeau said he didn’t know exactly what was inside the box, but admitted he knew it contained an illicit substance.

Whether or not Comeau’s supplier was identified or charged was not addressed in court.

Comeau, who repeatedly lamented the deteriorating state of his mental health, asked the deputy judge for a sentence of 2.5 years – a year less than what was proposed by Crown prosecutor Susanne Boucher.

Citing Comeau’s lengthy criminal record, which includes two trafficking convictions – the latest of which earned him a 22 month sentence in 2015 – Boucher said 3.5 years would be an appropriate sentence.

Sentencing Comeau to 40 months, Schuler said her decision was shaped by his criminal record and quantity of cocaine seized, an amount she said would only be placed in the hands of a “trusted” transporter.

With crimes of this nature, society is the victim,” said Schuler.

Comeau, who expressed anxiety about doing federal time in an Alberta prison following the decision, apologized for the “dumbest mistake” he’d made in his life and told the court he wanted to change his life and be a father to his young son.

With credit for time served in pre-trial custody at North Slave Correctional Complex, Comeau will spend 29 months behind bars. He must also submit his a DNA sample and is barred from possessing firearms for 10 years following his release.

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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