Edmonton mom sentenced to three years in prison

An Edmonton woman has been convicted of trying to smuggle more than a kilogram of methamphetamine into Japan on a flight from Vancouver International Airport nearly six years ago.

Jennifer Nagle, 32, who now has a three-year-old child, was sentenced to three years in prison following a 12-day trial in Richmond provincial court that ended Thursday with her sentencing.

While her defence lawyer Erik Albrecher argued she should be given a conditional sentence order, Richmond provincial court Judge Brian Daley disagreed.

Crown counsel Edlyn Laurie sought a three-year sentence, and that's precisely what Daley gave Nagle, who in a previous Richmond provincial court trial had been acquitted because of a finding that her Charter rights had been violated during the search of her purse, which ultimately led to the discovery of 1.14 kilograms of methaphmetamine hidden in her suitcase.

That acquittal was overturned by the Court of Appeal for B.C. in September of 2012, which ordered a new trial.

Nagle, who had been out on bail since her arrest, also sought the Supreme Court of Canada's intervention, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

On Oct. 12, 2008, Nagle was pulled aside by a Canada Border Services officer who was on roving duty and had been assigned to work in the lounge of the Vancouver International Airport.

As she was walking toward the plane and getting ready to board it, she was pulled aside and asked if she was carrying more than $10,000 in Canadian currency.

She said she was carrying just $1,200, and when the officer asked her to put her purse on a shelf, he searched it and found $1,200.

But in the course of looking through her purse, he continued to ask her questions, and it was the responses he received that made him suspicious.

A Richmond provincial court judge ultimately found that Nagle's charter rights had been broken, and that she should have been read her rights and given access to a lawyer before she made any incriminating statements. He acquitted her.

But that acquittal was unanimously overturned by the Court of Appeal for B.C., which found that the provincial court judge had erred in his ruling.

"Border crossings are not Charter-free zones. Border officials must be alive to the rights of travellers under Canadian law. While border officials have a right to make routine inquiries as part of the screening process, once border officials have "assumed control over the movement of (a traveller) by a demand that had significant legal consequences" the person is detained and must be apprised of his or her rights and afforded an opportunity to contact counsel," Justices Chiasson and Bennett ruled.

"In our view, prior to formally detaining and advising her of her rights, Officer Coopman did not violate Ms. Nagle's Charter rights by questioning her and looking through her purse. With the information at hand it was reasonable for him to detain her and for her luggage to be searched. The evidence to support that detention and the search and the evidence found as a result of the search, was admissible," they said. "We would allow this appeal, set aside the acquittal and order a new trial."

The drugs were worth about $25,000 in Canada, but stood to fetch four to seven times that amount in either Japan, where her flight was headed, or in Australia, which she claimed was her ultimate destination.

Nagle testified in her own defence, and claimed that she didn't know the drugs were in her suitcase.

Although she originally told the Canada Border Services officer the suitcases belonged to her, she testified in court that the suitcases were given to her.

Nagle had no prior criminal record.


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