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Man who found drugs in cell wall sentenced to time served


A man who was caught with two ounces of cocaine he said he found in the wall of his cell will be released from jail.

Michael Rodney Slade is led into the courtroom at provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday to hear the verdict in his case. — Photo by Rosie Mullaley/The Telegram

Michael Rodney Slade was given a five-month sentence in provincial court in St. John's this morning, but since he's been in custody since August 2014, it's considered time served.

Slade smiled at his family members as Judge Lori Marshall handed down the sentence.

She went along with an agreed recommendation from defence lawyer John McGrath, federal Crown prosecutor Neil Smith and provincial Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Ivany.

Slade was found guilty of possessing cocaine and breaching probation.

He was acquitted of the more serious offence of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. He was also found not guilty of several weapons-related charges.

He was first arrested in July 2013, and was released shortly after, but he was picked up again in August 2014 for breaching court orders.

His initial arrest on July 10, 2013, happened after police — who had surveillance on Slade and his brother, suspecting they had firearms and drugs — searched his mother’s house, where Slade lived, on Ashlen Crescent in Paradise.

Officers found several guns inside the house. The guns —  which included a sawed-off shotgun and long gun — were discovered in a basement room, which was opened with a key that had “Michael” written on it. Shotgun shells were found in a dresser, while the butt of a gun was found in a chair.

During his trial, Slade testified that while in custody at the lockup, less than a week after his arrest, he saw a gap in the bricks of the wall of his cell, behind his bunk. He said he reached in and found a package containing two ounces of cocaine.

When he heard the sound of the guards’ keys, he quickly stuffed it down the groin area of his pants. He said he didn’t tell the guards because they would think he put it in there.

However, guards found it when Slade was being taken out of his cell and they did a pat-down on him. According to staff members who testified at the trial, guards also did a pat-down when he went in the cell, following procedure.

There was no evidence to indicate Slade had intentions of selling the cocaine.

While the judge believed Slade found the package of cocaine in his cell wall, she said he had "wilful blindness."

"Rather than hand it over immediately, you chose to stick it down your pants and you're here today," Marshall said.

She said smuggling drugs into a prison is serious and that a message has to be sent that doing so will result in jail time.

The sentence includes a year's probation, with a condition that Slade participate in counselling for his drug addiction issues.

The judge agreed with Smith's assessment that Slade looked much healthier since he's been in jail.

"Obviously, drugs are ruining your life," she said, encouraging him to abstain. "I hope you continue on the path you're on."

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyCourt

 

 

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