South Okanagan woman finally sentenced for 2015 drug conviction - InfoNews

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South Okanagan woman finally sentenced for 2015 drug conviction

December 17, 2018 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - A South Okanagan woman tried to use the fact that she fled from British Columbia to escape sentencing on a host of drug charges as a reason she should get a lighter sentence.

Laurie-Ann Williams, born in 1966, was finally back before the judge who convicted her in May 2015 to be sentenced today, Dec. 17, in Kelowna Supreme Court. She told justice Gordon Weatherill she “made drastic life changes” the last three years and seven months she spent escaping that very hearing while in Edson, Alberta.

Her lawyer, James Pennington, suggested she even serve her sentence at home under a conditional sentence order since “she has been gainfully employed and, I hasten to point out, legitimately crime-free until her arrest.”

True, the period of May 2015 to September 2018 is among the largest blocks of time since 1991 that she didn’t add a new charge to her criminal record — nearly all of it for drugs. She was caught with small amounts of seven different types of drugs in 2013 and was convicted in 2015 of possessing all of them for the purpose of trafficking.

She also offered Weatherill a few other reasons to go easy on her. First, she said she felt she had to flee the South Okanagan to a place nobody knows her because "old acquaintances from the past showed up and felt aggrieved in some way and it was made quite clear to her that something needed to happen or something drastic was going to happen to her,” Pennington said of why she left.

Finally, she submitted a letter from a friend for the past 25 years who said he was counting on her to care for him in his final years before he dies of congestive heart failure. Williams told Weatherill himself, through tears, that she wanted to care for her friend. 

Weatherill wasn’t convinced, however. He pointed out that this friend was never mentioned in her pre-sentence reports — and he lived in Osoyoos while she was hiding out in Edson. He also questioned the legitimacy of the threats, considering she could have involved the police and didn't.

Still, it doesn’t appear that skipping out on sentencing until she was randomly caught and returned by authorities did Williams any harm, either.

In sentencing her to 2.5 years in prison — much of it time already served since she was held in custody since her September 2018 re-arrest — Weatherill said while her escape may be an aggravating factor he “didn’t give it much weight.”

Williams didn’t even face additional criminal charges for being at large. The Crown argued that Weatherill shouldn’t consider her good behaviour while escaped from custody should work in her credit, but also didn’t suggest she serve any longer term than she would have had she been sentenced in May, 2015.

She was sentenced to just less than two years new time.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones or call 250-718-2724 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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