June 14th, 2024

Accused receives 60-day sentence for possession

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 26, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 48-year-old man charged in January with drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, has received a jail sentence after pleading guilty to lesser charges of simple drug possession.
Jason Robert Bertram pleaded guilty Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court to three counts of drug possession and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.
At about 1:20 p.m. on Jan. 19 Lethbridge police noticed a motor vehicle parked behind Streets Alive Mission downtown and watched for about 30 minutes as people walked up to the vehicle and engaged in what appeared to be “hand-to-hand” drug transactions with the occupants of the vehicle, Jason Bertram and his spouse. Police saw one individual in particular approach the vehicle then walk away and immediately begin to smoke from a drug pipe.
Police approached the vehicle and arrested the couple, and during a search of the vehicle, they found 3.7 grams of methamphetamine, 0.9 grams of fentanyl, 2.5 grams of cocaine, and $220.
“Mr. Bertram was interviewed after he was arrested, and he said that the drugs were his, and that he is a drug addict,” Crown Prosecutor Mark Klassen told court.
Klassen, who, with city lawyer Darcy Shurtz, jointly recommended a 60-day sentence, said police had reasonable grounds to arrest and search the couple, but there was insufficient evidence to prove Bertram, who was the passenger in the vehicle, possessed the drugs for any purpose other than his own consumption. Klassen added the cash found in their possession was also a relatively small amount.
Shurtz said his client has been addicted to drugs since he was 15 years old, but when he is released from custody he intends to get treatment.
“He’s already been talking to Southern Alcare Manor, hoping to get into treatment there because he realizes right now it’s just a revolving door because of his addiction,” Shurtz said.
An additional charge of possession of the proceeds of crime was withdrawn, and charges of proceeds of crime and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking against Bertram’s spouse, were also withdrawn.
Although sentenced to 60 days, Bertram was given credit for 55 days he had already spent in remand custody, leaving only five days on his sentence.
He apologized to the judge and promised to get treatment for his addictions.
“I’m so sorry, your honour, for taking up your time again. I’m gonna get help this time. I’m looking into four months into a treatment centre. I’m going to get it done.”
Judge Erin Olsen noted that Bertram did not look healthy, and she expressed concern he had been addicted to drugs for more than 30 years.
“It’s really distressing to hear, and I’m really hoping you do get some help, because I’m quite concerned about your health and wellbeing,” Olsen said.
She added, however, that selling or sharing drugs at a shelter that assists people who are particularly vulnerable, is unforgivable.
“It exposed people to even worse harm than they are already vulnerable to, and you go there knowing you can take advantage of them and their vulnerabilities, and it’s just shameful. It’s a reflection of how far, how low, things are for you these days Mr. Bertram.”

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