An Edmonton man found guilty of possessing almost 300 grams of cocaine in Yellowknife was granted a new sentencing hearing date after telling a judge he’s been self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms.
A hearing for Liban Mohamood Mohammed, 28, was set to take place in NWT Supreme Court on Monday.
But Mohammed’s lawyer, Andre Ouellette, submitted an application to adjourn the matter — in part because his client is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, he said.
Both Mohammed and his wife have been self-isolating at a relative’s Edmonton residence, Ouellette told Justice Shannon Smallwood. Mohammed has not been tested for Covid-19, the court heard.
Ouellette said Alberta Health is advising residents to stay home unless symptoms are severe or unmanageable, in which case they should seek medical intervention. It was a point that gave Smallwood pause.
“That doesn’t seem like much of a testing strategy,” she said.
Addressing Smallwood over the phone from Edmonton, Mohammed said he called Alberta Health and was told to self-isolate for two weeks before going to the hospital to be tested.
The lack of a pre-sentence report — a summary of an offender’s background and circumstances — also stood as a reason for adjournment of his sentencing hearing. The report hasn’t been completed. Mohammed said that’s because he can’t get reach Probation Services in Alberta.
The Crown says otherwise.
Prosecutor Brendan Green, who strongly opposed the adjournment, said Mohammed simply hadn’t taken the proper steps to contact officials in order to complete the pre-sentence report.
As for Mohammed’s Covid-19 symptoms, Green said he was “extremely skeptical.” He said there’s “absolutely no documentation” from medical professionals to back up his claims.
“I’m extremely concerned about this. (Mohammed) poses a very serious flight risk,” said Green.
Green told the court that prior to Mohammed’s arrest in Yellowknife nearly three years ago, he used a fake ID to travel while failing to abide by his probation conditions at the time.
Despite the Crown’s concerns, Smallwood “reluctantly” approved the application.
In February, after a judge-alone trial, Mohammed was found guilty of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possessing property — cash — obtained by crime. In September 2017, after weeks of surveillance, a Yellowknife RCMP drug investigation led Mounties to a 52 Street apartment. After breaking down the door with a battering ram, officers found Mohammed — along with 293 grams of cocaine and $52,325 in cash. The drugs were valued at $46,000.
Mohammed’s co-accused, charged with the same offences, was acquitted.
Mohammed’s next court date is scheduled for June 15. That will give him time to complete self-isolation and undergo testing. If Mohammed is free of Covid-19, Green said he’ll apply to have the offender’s bail revoked.
In light of the adjournment, Smallwood amended Mohammed’s at the request of the Crown. He’s now under 24-hour house arrest.