Pubdate: Tue, 17 Apr 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Rob Shaw, Times Colonist


Four sailors from CFB Esquimalt are being court-martialled by the
military on charges of trafficking cocaine, but the navy says there's
no evidence of a larger drug-dealing operation on its ships.

The four sailors served on board HMCS Saskatoon, one of 12
Kingston-class warships in the Canadian navy. The Saskatoon is
stationed in Esquimalt.

Two of the sailors have already pleaded guilty to the

Sonya Robert, a 27-year-old ship's cook, was fined $500 and handed a
30-day suspended sentence April 10. Robert sold half a gram of cocaine
to an undercover military officer at a private residence in Victoria
in January 2006, said Lieut. Paul Pendergast, a spokesman for CFB Esquimalt.

Brenda Murley, a 28-year-old deckhand, also pleaded guilty to
trafficking charges on Feb. 28. She was fined $500 and given a 15-day
suspended sentence, said Pendergast.

A leading seaman and a chief petty officer from the ship also face
trafficking charges in the next few months, said Pendergast. The navy
will not name them until then, he said.

"There has been no evidence put forth that anything was going on the
ship," said Pendergast.

"The incidents that the two individuals were convicted of occurred off
the base."

The four navy crew members left the Canadian Forces a few months after
being arrested last January, although Pendergast would not say if the
military removed them or the sailors left voluntarily.

A court martial proceeding does not necessarily mean a person is
kicked out of the Canadian Forces. If a forces member is found guilty,
the penalties can range from fines to jail time, said Pendergast.

In the case of the four HMCS Saskatoon members, the navy chose courts
martial instead of civillian court, in part to send a message to other
officers, said Pendergast.

There have been 13 courts martial cases at CFB Esquimalt in the past
year, of which eight involved drug offences.

"One is too many as far as the navy is concerned," said Pendergast,
noting there are 4,500 sailors on the base.
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