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MLA spared testifying at criminal trial

Walter Strong/NNSL photoYellowknife, NT - Dec. 8, 2015 - Julie Green
Julie Green, MLA for Yellowknife Centre

A Yellowknife MLA was spared testifying at a criminal trial when the accused pleaded guilty immediately before the trial was set to begin.

Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green had been subpoenaed by the Crown to testify against the 29-year-old man. He was convicted of assaulting a woman who was eight-months pregnant in May of this year.

Court heard a man twisted a woman’s arm and then tried to pick her up as she sat crying on the side of 51 Avenue near 54 Street. A woman who lives nearby, who turned out to be Green, saw the commotion and called police. The victim was not seriously hurt. Yellowknifer has chosen not to identify the man because the assault was domestic in nature.

The man was sentenced to time served - the four months he spent in pre-trial custody.

Territorial Court judge Bernadette Schmaltz ruled the man, who lives in Yellowknife Centre, can only contact Green if the reason is to talk to her about government business that pertains to him.

Drug ringleader gets give years

A Yellowknife man was sentenced Monday to five years in jail for conspiracy to traffic cocaine, possession of cocaine and counselling to commit assault.

Supreme Court judge Louise Charbonneau accepted a joint recommendation from the Crown and defence in sentencing Norman Hache, 36.

Hache, the former owner of Jerrie's Delivery Service, will have about three years left on his sentence after he was given credit for the 501 days he spent in pre-trial custody. Charbonneau also prohibited him from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years upon his release from jail and ordered that he give a sample of his DNA for the national databank.

Hache was arrested after his phone was tapped between February and April of last year. Court heard he was the alleged co-leader of a sophisticated drug ring that was bringing tens of thousands of dollars worth of powdered and crack cocaine to the NWT from Alberta for distribution in the city as well as Fort Resolution, Fort Smith and Hay River. Court also heard one of Hache's co-conspirators worked for a Northern airline and used his job to help smuggle cocaine into the territory.

In wiretapped phone calls between Hache and a partner in Calgary, played in court, Hache is heard telling the man to attack another man who had double-crossed him.

Charbonneau read from Hache's letter, delivered to her in court during the sentencing hearing last week, in which he apologized to his family.

“He said he felt shame and remorse and realizes the harm and damage done to the community,” said Charbonneau, reading from the letter. “This is a huge problem in the North to which I have contributed. I have helped to destroy what other people are trying to fix.”

Court heard Hache became the father to a baby son while in custody. Through his lawyer, he explained that for the sake of his young son, he does not intend to return to the drug trade.

Outside court, RCMP Sgt. Dean Riou said he realizes this bust and others do put a dent in the drug trade, but someone always comes along to fill the vacuum.

“We'd be naive to think that we would completely kibosh the drug trade in Yellowknife,” he said. “There's a very strong demand for these illicit drugs and there's always going to be somebody greedy enough to fill those demands.”

Jurors summoned at mall, including Yellowknifer reporters

At least three people, including two Yellowknifer reporters, were summoned to jury duty while they were in Centre Square Mall on Monday.

The summonses were hand delivered by a courthouse sheriff.

The jurors were needed for a sexual assault trial and had only two hours to report to court or face a $200 fine.

Jeff Round, director of court services for the Department of Justice, explained an an e-mail why this process occurred.

“Every jury trial has a large panel of potential jurors summonsed,” he stated. “Prospective jurors may request to be excused and where a significant number are excused the panel may be exhausted prior to full jury being selected.”

He went on to explain the Criminal Code provides allows the department to summon jurors on the street in situations like this.

Round stated the process, known as “talesmen,” was unfortunate.