Pubdate: Thu, 13 Sep 2007
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2007 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Kevin Bissett, Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)


OROMOCTO, N.B. - A soldier who sold a small quantity of marijuana to
an undercover officer was convicted Wednesday of drug trafficking,
prompting his lawyer to introduce a motion claiming abuse of process.

The motion, introduced during the second day of a court martial for
Bombardier Garry Kettle, alleges the soldier at Canadian Forces Base
Gagetown, N.B., was entrapped and seeks a stay of proceedings.

Navy Lt. Christa MacKinnon, the prosecution lawyer, said the guilty
verdict issued by a military judge would be erased if the motion is

"If the (motion) is unsuccessful, we'll go onto the final stage, which
is sentencing," she said.

Kettle, a member of the 4 Air Defence Regiment, was charged in April
2006 after selling a $20 bag of marijuana to the undercover officer.

A trafficking conviction carries a possible sentence of up to five
years in prison.

Five soldiers were charged at Gagetown last year under the National
Defence Act with trafficking in cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana.

A court martial for Brian Stevens, a former corporal and Afghanistan
veteran from the Truro area, was to begin Wednesday. But it got bogged
down in procedural wrangling after Lt.-Col. Troy Sweet, his lawyer,
withdrew from the case, saying there had been a breakdown in their
solicitor-client relationship.

Despite being assigned to the case in March, Sweet said he only met
with his client for the first time this week.

Sweet said the military had difficulty finding Stevens and resorted to
a search service from Halifax to find the former soldier in Alberta.

The lawyer was replaced by Richard Roach, a civilian lawyer whose
Oromocto, N.B., office is not far from the base.

Roach immediately asked to have the court martial delayed until
January to give him time to study 900 pages of disclosure documents
and to meet with his client, who now lives in Jasper, Alta.

Maj. Jason Samson, the prosecutor in the case, opposed the delay,
noting there had already been two adjournments this year. He said a
January hearing would be a full year after charges were laid and would
send the wrong message to the military and public about the military
justice system.

Samson called Maj. Joe Hartson, Stevens's former commanding officer of
G Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.

"We have a number of soldiers dealing with drug problems," Hartson
said, "and any delay would send the wrong message . . . that (Stevens)
was getting away with something."

Hartson said such a message would have a serious impact on discipline
and morale of his troops as they train for their next mission in
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