Despite her lawyer’s concerns about the continuity of a key piece of evidence, a former Osoyoos woman is again facing jail time after being caught with a “virtual drug store.”
Following a three-day trial last week in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton, 48-year-old Laurie-Ann Margaret Williams was convicted of seven counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
Court heard the drugs in question included 11 grams of heroin, 84 grams of methamphetamine, plus ecstasy, prescription painkillers and LSD valued at upwards of $11,000.
The drugs were found in a false-bottomed aerosol can in a bag that was in the back of a truck in which Williams was a passenger when it was pulled over by a Penticton RCMP officer on May 5, 2012.
Also in the bag was women’s clothing that Williams denied was hers, but police later linked her to the bag with a receipt that had her name on it.
Williams said she kept the receipt, which was from a visit to a dentist a day earlier, in her purse and wasn’t sure how it got into the bag.
RCMP Const. Mark Hanna testified that the receipt wasn’t found during an initial search of the bag at the RCMP detachment, but rather two days later after the bag had been repacked and sent with the truck to a local towing company’s yard. Hanna told the court he went to the yard to re-examine the bag’s contents and discovered the receipt in a side pocket.
Defence counsel James Pennington noted in his closing arguments that RCMP records showed the bag never left the Penticton detachment, which he described as a “major discrepancy” that cast doubt on the case against his client.
Crown counsel Clarke Burnett countered that although police conducted “perhaps not the most thorough” initial search of the bag, it would be “fanciful” to suggest someone planted the receipt to connect Williams to the “virtual drug store of controlled substances.”
Justice Gordon Weatherill sided with the Crown and rejected key elements of Williams’ testimony, including a claim she travelled from Scotch Creek to Penticton with nothing but the clothes on her back
“She knew she was scheduled to undergo some kind of dental procedure for an abscessed tooth. It defies common sense that she would drive five hours in the middle of the night, in early May, feeling as ill as she claims to have felt, naked except for a sundress,” said Weatherill.
The judge also cast doubt on her explanation for $8,995 in cash found in her purse, which she testified was a loan from a friend to pay off fines and buy a car.
“It defies credulity that a friend would lend her that amount of money in cash — $4,000 in tight bundles and the rest loose — for the potential purchase of an unknown, yet-to-be-located vehicle.”
Williams remains free on bail and is due back in court April 3 to set a date for sentencing. She was among three people arrested in 2006 in Osoyoos following what police at the time said was the biggest drug bust ever in the South Okanagan. Williams was later sentenced to two years and seven months in prison.