Resourceful smuggler gets 10 months for courtroom drugs

A Whitehorse woman received 10 months in jail for drug trafficking after she attempted to smuggle marijuana and an impressive collection of paraphernalia into a courtroom and the Whitehorse jail. Jessica Johnson was sentenced on Friday.

A Whitehorse woman received 10 months in jail for drug trafficking after she attempted to smuggle marijuana and an impressive collection of paraphernalia into a courtroom and the Whitehorse jail.

Jessica Johnson was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to a brazen attempt to provide drugs to Christopher Cornell during a preliminary inquiry into the 2011 crime spree the two are both accused of committing.

Johnson, 22, was not in custody at the time of the November 16, 2012 hearing.

In the courtroom that day, an RCMP officer saw Johnson reach into her purse and pull out a small black baggie.

She held it until she made eye contact with Cornell. When their eyes met, she threw the bag across the courtroom and under the defence table at his feet. Cornell tried to hide the bag under his left foot.

When the officer retrieved and opened the bag, he found two cigarettes, a small bag of marijuana and some matches. He arrested Johnson in the courtroom and read her her rights.

A second officer was called in to escort Johnson to the arrest processing unit at Whitehorse Correctional. The officer gave Johnson a pat down, handcuffed her behind her back and put her in the back of a police cruiser after searching the back seat and finding it clear.

Part way to the jail, the officer noticed Johnson fumbling around in the back seat. He pulled over, and discovered that she had managed to work her shackled hands around to her front. The officer took Johnson out of the car, and found two empty syringe packs on the floor of the cruiser. When they reached the jail, Johnson was strip searched by a female corrections officer.

“Ms. Johnson pulled a syringe from the crack of her buttocks. A more extensive search of Ms. Johnson was conducted in private, and that person found a marijuana pipe, a crack pipe, a syringe, rolling papers and loose tobacco, all located wrapped in plastic in Ms. Johnson’s vagina,” said Crown prosecutor Terri Nguyen as she read from the agreed statements of fact.

The Crown was asking for between 10 and 12 months for the crime. Defence lawyer Gordon Coffin suggested a lesser penalty, describing Johnson as a very young and inexperienced woman who fell in with the wrong group of friends.

“I appreciate that this is quite a serious matter. On the one hand, it’s almost as flagrant a breach of court protocol as one could imagine. On the other, it is also as foolish behavior as one could imagine. How one could imagine you could get away with something like this in the face of the court is really hard to understand,” Coffin said.

“I’m not sure that Ms. Johnson understands it,” he said.

In reading her verdict, Judge Karen Ruddy said special consideration had to be made for such obviously disrespectful behaviour.

“I must say that to not only bring drugs into the courthouse but into the actual courtroom, and then to attempt to pass them while court was in session demonstrates in my view an underlying disrespect for the court and a flagrant contempt for the law,” Judge Ruddy said.

Judge Ruddy also said that in light of the other charges Ms. Johnson is facing, her drug smuggling attempts are all the more serious.

Johnson and Cornell are both accused of a Bonnie-and-Clyde style crime spree. In September 2011, the couple was accused of attempted murder after they allegedly shot at RCMP Cpl. Kim MacKellar. They are also accused of armed robbery of Madley’s General Store in Haines Junction.

For the separate crime of throwing drugs across an open courtroom, Johnson will serve four more months behind bars, having been given credit for the six she has already served.

Contact Jesse Winter at jessew@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Kwanlin Dün First Nation chief Doris Bill holds up a signed copy of the KDFN <em>Lands Act</em> agreement during an announcement at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse on Oct. 20. Under the new act, called Nan kay sháwthän Däk’anúta ch’e (We all look after our land) in Southern Tutchone, KDFN will be able to allot citizens land to build their own houses on, for example, or to use for traditional activities. The First Nation will also be able to enforce laws around things like land access and littering. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s Lands Act comes into force

The act gives the First Nation the authority to manage, protect and enforce laws on its settlement lands

Two doctors in Watson Lake say they are at risk of losing their housing due to a Yukon Housing Corporation policy that only allows one pet per family. (Wikimedia Commons)
Healthcare workers in Watson Lake say housing pet policy could force them to leave

The Yukon Housing Corporation has threatened evictions for having more than one pet

The Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services building in Whitehorse on March 28, 2019. Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed for good say they were relieved to hear that the Yukon RCMP has undertaken a forensic audit into the now-defunct NGO’s financial affairs. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former Many Rivers board members relieved to hear about forensic audit, wonder what took so long

Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed… Continue reading

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. The Yukon Employees’ Union and Yukon Hospital Corporation are at odds over whether there’s a critical staffing shortage at the territory’s hospitals. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
YEU, Yukon Hospital Corp. at odds over whether hospitals are understaffed

YEU says four nurses quit within 12 hours last week, a claim the YHC says is “inaccurate”

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, Ray Hartling and Mark Lange, have filed a class action against the jail, corrections officials and Yukon government on behalf of everyone who’s been placed in two restrictive units over the past six years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Class action filed against Whitehorse Correctional Centre over use of segregation

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates have filed a class action against… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

asdf
EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Most Read