Former jail guard faces trial for drug smuggling

A former jail guard accused of trying to smuggle drugs into the Whitehorse Correctional Centre told the RCMP he was overwhelmed with bills at the time of his arrest.

A former jail guard accused of trying to smuggle drugs into the Whitehorse Correctional Centre told the RCMP he was overwhelmed with bills at the time of his arrest.

The 100-minute-long video of Michael Gaber’s interrogation was played in Yukon Supreme Court this week.

Gaber was arrested on Boxing Day 2013 after his superiors at the jail found pills in his pockets. He is charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

This week’s trial has focused on the 59 white pills. An expert with a Health Canada lab in British Columbia spent all day Thursday testifying that the pills were methylphenidate, the generic name for Ritalin.

Meanwhile, Gaber’s lawyer, David Tarnow, has tried to punch holes in the science that identified the drug. The defence only plans to call one witness, also an expert, who is expected to spend all day today on the stand.

Back on the day of his arrest, Gaber was questioned in an interrogation room.

From the very beginning, the officer said, his main concern is “why” Gaber chose to do this.

Gaber said it was just about the money. He doesn’t lead an extravagant life, he told the officer, but bills were piling up.

“It was just one of those things, financial stuff,” he said.

At some points in the interview, which is often garbled on the recording, Gaber volunteered information. He said he was feeling pressure from the inmates inside to bring in contraband and eventually caved.

He said he started out with tobacco and then other packages. He insisted he didn’t know what the pills were.

Gaber was originally also charged with trying to bring marijuana in the jail. The judge threw out the marijuana staff allegedly found in his car, lambasting the facility for violating Gaber’s rights during the investigation.

The interrogating officer asked him about the possibility weapons were smuggled without his knowledge, but Gaber said he didn’t think so.

Who paid Gaber to bring in the contraband is still unknown. The officer repeatedly pressed him for names but he refused.

Gaber told the officer being questioned by jail staff was scary enough to make him want to stop even if he hadn’t been arrested.

It was almost a relief, he said, to have been caught.

After watching the video Wednesday, Thursday’s testimony had little to do with Gaber himself and was instead focused on science.

For the entire day, expert Sarita Jaswal testified about how the Health Canada lab where she works tests and identifies unknown drugs.

She said the lab is nationally certified and follows strict protocols when it comes to testing the substances and managing its equipment.

It’s about more than what something physically looks like, she said. A pill is crushed and then, through various tests, the lab is able to look at the construction of its molecules, she said.

Through multiple tests, she was able to certify that the pill was methylphenidate, she testified.

Tarnow asked detailed questions about Jaswal’s work and repeatedly questioned why she chose to use certain methods over others.

During cross examination, she acknowledged that she only tested one pill and could not say anything about the other 58 that were found on Gaber.

The defence’s expert has been allowed to watch the entire proceeding before getting on the stand today.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Children’s performer Claire Ness poses for a photo for the upcoming annual Pivot Festival. “Claire Ness Morning” will be a kid-friendly performance streamed on the morning of Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy Erik Pinkerton Photography)
Pivot Festival provides ‘delight and light’ to a pandemic January

The festival runs Jan. 20 to 30 with virtual and physically distant events

The Boulevard of Hope was launched by the Yukon T1D Support Network and will be lit up throughout January. It is aimed at raising awareness about Yukoners living with Type 1 diabetes. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Boulevard of Hope sheds light on Type 1 diabetes

Organizers hope to make it an annual event

City of Whitehorse city council meeting in Whitehorse on Oct. 5, 2020. An updated council procedures bylaw was proposed at Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 18 meeting that would see a few changes to council meetings and how council handles certain matters like civil emergencies. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse procedures bylaw comes forward

New measures proposed for how council could deal with emergencies

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

Most Read