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Drug trafficker thankful for time in jail

A Whitehorse man says he is grateful for being arrested on a string of drug charges. Joshua Manning stood and spoke to the judge at his sentencing hearing last week.

A Whitehorse man says he is grateful for being arrested on a string of drug charges.

Joshua Manning stood and spoke to the judge at his sentencing hearing last week. He pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The 22-year-old called being arrested “the healthiest thing that could have happened to me.”

The Crown is asking that Manning be sent to jail for between 18 months and two years, while his lawyer wants him to be allowed to serve his time in the community.

Territorial Court Judge Peter Chisholm is scheduled to make his ruling Nov. 7.

Manning had no criminal record until now. He told the judge that spending two months in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre before being released on bail allowed him to clear his head and realize the dangerous direction his life had been heading.

Manning was arrested in July 2012 after selling drugs to an undercover officer multiple times over the span of about six months.

In total he sold 46 grams of cocaine and three grams of powder he identified as ecstasy to the police, prosecutor Joanna Phillips told the court.

The powder ended up not being an illegal drug.

The court heard about seven different instances where Manning sold drugs to the undercover officer, including once when the sale was for a full ounce.

Phillips argued that, although Manning may be an addict himself, he was also clearly part of a commercial organization, as opposed to someone selling only to maintain his habit.

Others charged as a result of the undercover operation have already been sentenced.

In the case of crimes like this, it is important to send a message that “if you traffic drugs in the North you are going to jail,” the lawyer said.

The amount of drugs sold combined with the commercial nature of the operation means jail is required, Phillips said.

Manning’s lawyer, Jennifer Cunningham, argued that her client would be well suited for a conditional sentence in the community with strict conditions.

After being released on bail last September, two months after his arrest, he had to abide by strict conditions including a curfew and had no problems, she said.

She argued that Manning, who has been using cocaine since he was 17, was “not fully of mind” during the six months he was interacting with the undercover officer. If he was not an addict, he would not have been in that situation, she said.

Since being released on bail he has been attending counselling and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, where he received his 12-month chip, a symbol of a year of sobriety.

During that time he went to Yukon College, was a student in the carpentry program, and hopes to eventually get his journeyman’s certificate, she said.

Speaking for himself at the end of the hearing, Manning called the Yukon College program “a pleasure” and said it gave him a career and direction his life has never had.

In high school he couldn’t imagine a life without drugs, he said.

“By the time you realize you don’t call the shots anymore, you give up,” he said of his addiction.

He said he went from getting high three or four times a week to every day.

Manning claims he “almost lost his life a handful of times” after nearly overdosing.

Phillips was skeptical of that claim. She pointed out that the undercover officer said Manning looked healthy.

Manning told the judge he “deserves everything that is happening to me right now” and that he has spent the last 14 months trying to make amends.

Contact Ashley Joannou at