Feds drop drug charges

No explanation given for decision in Terrace, BC case

A TWO-YEAR old drug case was dropped abruptly last week.

Ellen New, who had been charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and one charge of possession, had her charges stayed by a federal prosecutor, who doesn’t have to give a reason as to why he would not follow through to trial.

Defence lawyer Suzette Narbonne did not know why the charges were dropped.

I don’t have a clue why. They send me a letter telling me it’s been stayed. They’re not obligated to tell me why,” she said about why prosecutor Harold Alkema stayed the charges.

On July 17, 2010, officers seized cash and what they described as cocaine when two search warrants were executed at the same time on Pine Ave. by Terrace RCMP, the North District General Investigation Section and the North District Emergency Response Team, reported police at that time.

Two women were arrested in one residence and another woman in the other residence, said police.

Ellen Lizette New was charged for possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and released by a justice of the peace on conditions, said police.

Charges for possession for the purpose of trafficking were being forwarded to the prosecutors against the other two women arrested.

One was never charged.

The other, Jacquelyn Stelmacker, had her charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking stayed by the court in September this year.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada, (PPSC) who represents federal prosecutors and can speak for them, wouldn’t comment on why the charges were dropped.

The federal prosecution service’s Department of Justice Canada desk book Chap. 15 says Crown counsel must consider two issues when deciding whether to prosecute.

First, is the evidence sufficient to justify the institution or continuation of proceedings?

Second, if it is, does the public interest require a prosecution to be pursued?

These two questions must be applied throughout the proceedings – from the time the investigative report is first received until the time of trial, continues the desk book.

It is not the rule that all offences for which there is sufficient evidence must be prosecuted, according to the desk book.

Generally, the more serious the offence, the more likely the public interest will require that a prosecution be pursued, it explains.

The proper decision in many cases will be to proceed with a prosecution if there is sufficient evidence available to justify a prosecution, the desk book said.

A stay of proceedings is like a suspension, where charges can be brought back within a period of one year.

While proceedings are stayed, the charges are still technically in place and the matter continues to be considered before a court.