'IMAGINE THE WORST THING YOU EVER DID APPEARING IN THE NEWSPAPER.'
KAMLOOPS - An on the job injury, the death of her father and the potential loss of her career drove Randi Love to the point of self-medication by using cocaine, lawyers say.
The former Kamloops Mountie pleaded guilty to one count of drug possession today, and both Crown and defence lawyers believe she shouldn't spend time behind bars.
Crown had originally charged 41-year-old Love with three counts of trafficking a controlled substance. Prosecutor Gerry Sair told the court today, Jan. 12, that Love had possession of cocaine on three instances between June 12 and June 27, 2015. No drugs were actually found in the investigation.
Love, who became a member of the force in 2000, was on medical leave sporadically between November 2010 and June 2015, after suffering a severe injury in 2009, according to an agreed statement of facts read in court by Sair.
In the middle of June 2015, Love returned to work doing administrative duties. Sair says in July 2015, RCMP received unsolicited information regarding Love's actions outside of work.
Sair read from screenshots of Facebook messages between Love and an alleged dial-a-dope cocaine dealer. The messages from June 13, 2015 showed Love asking to meet with the dealer in order to get cocaine for a friend of hers, identified in court as "Friend 1" who was going through a rough time.
The dealer then replied asking if Love would like to try some.
"Jesus no!" she wrote back.
Once Love and her friend went to meet up with the man, who was not identified in court, Love made it clear to them she didn't want to partake, Sair says.
"The dealer said that... Love told him she didn't want to touch it, or see it, or anything so she turned away," Sair said.
Both the friend and the dealer gave statements to police saying Love had not used the cocaine, but the friend made a subsequent statement saying Love had used it, but immediately felt remorseful after.
Sair says Friend 1 felt pressured that the usage was solely falling on her. Neither the dealer nor the friend have been charged.
On June 22, Love messaged the dealer again, saying a different friend, referred to in court as "Friend 2" asked Love for help in getting cocaine. Love said she was trying to be a good friend, but this was the last time she would do it, court heard.
She went to meet with him and in his statement to police the dealer said Love wouldn't even touch the drug.
Four days later, Friend 1 asked Love to get cocaine for her again because she couldn't leave her kids at home. Love obliged. She went to meet with the dealer, Sair says, but after receiving the drugs she had run into two fellow RCMP officers.
Sair says Love didn't profit from transporting the cocaine from the dealer to her friends, but the original three charges of trafficking in a controlled substance referred to her transportation of cocaine. Court heard she purchased approximately two grams of cocaine in each incident.
Crown is asking for a suspended sentence while defence is asking for a conditional discharge. A suspended sentence would garner no jail time but a conviction would be entered into Love's record, while a discharge is not a conviction.
"Before the court is a woman who... has suffered a lot and continues to suffer," Sair said.
Although Love's actual cocaine usage was unclear during the reading of the statement of facts, her lawyer Brad Smith says she experimented with the drug on three occasions as a form of coping.
The majority of Love's suffering stems from the workplace injury she suffered Dec. 31, 2009. Love responded to a 911 call on the North Shore. When she arrived a belligerent, drunk 300-pound person was there, Smith said.
The person was confrontational and violent, eventually falling on Love at the top of a staircase. Love slid down the stairs with the person on top of her, suffering a severe back injury and three herneated disks in her neck.
She continued to work for another year. Two years after the original incident, Love attended RCMP training in Chilliwack where she was assessed by a doctor and referred to a neurologist in Vancouver.
Smith says the specialist told Love even a minor impact could have the potential of causing paralysis. She's been off active duty since then.
Smith told the court Love has had three neck surgeries and four surgeries burning nerve endings to alleviate the pain. She will have to undergo the nerve endings procedure every two years for the rest of her life.
"One can only imagine the amount of pain," Smith said.
He told the court Love used cocaine to numb her physical and emotional pain. She lost her father to lung cancer in 2013 and Smith says he was the only positive male role model in her 11-year-old son's life.
"Her drug use was a coping mechanism," Smith said. "She was one of the good guys."
Court heard Love also faced extreme and frequent sexual harassment from a Staff Sergeant at the Kamloops RCMP detachment while she was a Constable. Her psychologist says her neck injury, the sexual harassment and the loss of her father were all contributing factors to her diagnosis of major depressive disorder and anxiety.
Smith said Love was devastated when she learned in the summer of 2015 that the RCMP planned on medically discharging her from the force.
He says his client has already paid a high price for what she's done, saying the heightened media exposure around the case has made an impact on her.
"Media coverage does have an effect," Smith said.
He cited the Vancouver Sun's erroneous headline from October 2016, indicating Love was expected to enter a guilty plea to the charges.
"Imagine the worst thing you ever did appearing in the newspaper," Smith said. "Here we have someone who's lived that."
Smith says one count of simple possession is the least serious of all drug charges and her status as a police officer had no impact on her obtaining the drugs.
"The offence was not committed when she was on duty or in uniform," Smith said. "She's a person of good character."
Smith says Love has been trying to turn her life around ever since. She is engaged to be married and has hopes of becoming a counsellor.
Both lawyers are asking for a 12 month probation period where Love would complete 50 hours of community service. Lawyers will meet again Monday, Jan. 16, to fix a date for sentencing.
Find past stories on this case here.
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