Yukon territorial court Judge Michael Cozens dismissed drug-related charges against Jibril Hosh Jibril, 28, on May 23 after the Crown failed to authenticate a piece of evidence that was crucial to its case. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

Judge dismisses Whitehorse fentanyl smuggling case against Toronto man

Judge Michael Cozens dismissed the case against Jibril Hosh Jibril on May 23

A Yukon territorial court judge has dismissed drug-related charges against a Toronto man arrested following a 2017 Whitehorse fentanyl bust after the Crown failed to authenticate a piece of evidence that was crucial to its case.

Jibril Hosh Jibril, 28, had been on trial earlier this week for possession of fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking in relation to a package seized from the Whitehorse Greyhound station in April 2017 that contained hundreds of fentanyl tablets.

However, on May 23 — the third and last day of the trial — Judge Michael Cozens dismissed the case after Crown attorney Benjamin Eberhard conceded the fingerprint evidence the Crown had built its case on was essentially worthless.

That was because the fingerprint expert, while testifying during the trial, unexpectedly pulled out a document she had based her work on but that neither the Crown nor defence had seen before — a set of Jibril’s fingerprints, taken by Saskatoon police in 2013, that she had matched to a partial print found on a bag inside the package.

The sheet of Saskatoon fingerprints, however, was missing information like the name of the person who made the prints, rendering it little more than hearsay. That, in turn, had a domino effect on the value of the work that used the sheet as its foundation.

It was an unexpected end to a trial that had gotten off to a fairly mundane start, with Eberhard and Jibril’s lawyer, David Chow, agreeing on a few key details:

Jibril had been arrested in Whitehorse’s Riverdale neighbourhood in June 2017 after police seized a package that, two months earlier, had stirred the suspicion of the Whitehorse Greyhound station manager.

The package’s contents included six plastic sandwich bags holding a total of 535 green pills, a handful of which were tested and found to contain fentanyl.

Investigators called in a fingerprint expert, Whitehorse RCMP reserve Const. Shelley Massey, to test the package. She collected three partial prints, two of which she entered into a national database.

One, lifted off a sandwich bag, matched a set of prints Saskatoon police had taken of Jibril in 2013; that, in turn, led investigators to track down a picture of Jibril and conduct surveillance around the city for him until his arrest.

The Crown had hinged its case on that match; the Greyhound station manager, Kevin Jack, testified May 21 that he would not be able to recognize the person who had dropped off the package, recalling only that he had given his name as “Jamal Ali.”

As well, under cross-examination, all three Whitehorse RCMP officers that had worked on the case besides Massey said they did not obtain any security camera footage of “Jamal Ali.”

Massey was the Crown’s final witness and had written a report on how she had analyzed the sandwich bag and Saskatoon prints.

During her testimony, she pulled a copy of the Saskatoon prints themselves out of her files, to the apparent surprise of both the Crown and defence.

Eberhard asked for the prints to be entered as an exhibit, but Chow objected, arguing that the sheet had not been disclosed to the defence prior to the trial, as is standard practice.

As well, Chow noted, the Saskatoon prints did not identify who had taken them, meaning that person could not be cross-examined on the validity of the work.

Also at issue was the fact that Massey had not compared the sandwich bag print to Jibril’s fingerprints taken by Whitehorse RCMP after his arrest. She had compared the Saskatoon prints to the Whitehorse prints, determining that they came from the same person, but had not provided documentation on her analysis.

Eberhard told the court May 22 that he had contacted Saskatoon police and identified the person who had taken Jibril’s prints. He then made a two-part application argued on May 23 — first, that the Crown be allowed to reopen its case, and second, that the trial be adjourned so that the Saskatoon police employee had time to submit an affidavit authenticating the prints.

Massey also wished to submit an “addendum” to her report, Eberhard added, after being extensively cross-examined on why she had not documented her work in comparing the Saskatoon and Whitehorse prints.

Chow objected to the application, arguing that it would result in “manifest unfairness” accruing on the defence. Among other things, he said, the Crown should have anticipated he would be raising issues about the fingerprint evidence and been more diligent.

“(This is) not a case where no human ingenuity could have foreseen these problems,” he said.

Cozens ultimately denied the Crown’s application after a short break on May 23.

Eberhard conceded then that, as the fingerprint evidence would now be given little weight from the court, there was now little prospect of a conviction and asked for the case to be dismissed.

Cozens said the request was “appropriate.”

Jibril, who was smiling as he left the courtroom with his mother and sister, declined to comment to reporters on the turn of events, saying only, “Be nice, be nice.”

Speaking to media briefly, Chow said that Cozens had made the right decision in declining to allow the Crown to reopen its case, and that Jibril was “satisfied and grateful for the outcome.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

fentanylYukon courts

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

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read