A woman who tried to deliver ganja to a prison inmate by hiding it inside her child’s diaper was remanded in custody on Monday.
Daniella Tibbetts, 24, pleaded guilty in March to possession of ganja with intent to supply, but Monday was the first time details of the offense were aired in court.
Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson said that Tibbetts attended Northward prison around 2:45 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2016. She had her child with her, who was about two years old. Under security procedures, Tibbetts was searched by a female officer and nothing was found on her.
She was then told that the child had to be searched as well. Tibbetts refused and started to walk away in an attempt to leave the premises. She was again told that the child had to be searched and a prison officer carried out the search.
Two packs of vegetable matter wrapped in black plastic were found at the back of the child’s diaper, Mr. Ferguson said. The contraband was subsequently tested and found to be 85.4 grams (about three ounces) of ganja.
Local and U.K. authorities show that supplying any kind of drug to a serving criminal is a very serious offense that requires a custodial sentence, Mr. Ferguson stated. He provided the court with copies of case precedents and urged the court to pass a sentence that would “send a message to like-minded persons who wish to supply drugs to prisoners.”
Defense attorney John Furniss told the court that Tibbetts had not wanted to be involved in the supply, “but certain pressure was put on her” by the prisoner, who was the father of her child. She had not bought the ganja and she had not packaged it. “She was pure courier,” he asserted.
The “pressure” included threats by the inmate and also what he said about contact with Tibbetts and the child, Mr. Furniss elaborated.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats wondered why Tibbetts had not told the probation officer about the alleged threats when she was interviewed for the pre-sentencing report.
Mr. Furniss cited the 12-month sentence given to a first offender in a U.K. case involving a small amount of drug. He pointed out that Tibbetts also was a first offender. He agreed that “a small amount” was determined to be under 30 grams.
The magistrate said that 12 months was the result of discounts for the small amount, the lack of previous convictions, the guilty plea. The starting point in that sentence, therefore, was probably two years.
Mr. Furniss suggested that those factors also applied to Tibbetts, but there was also the child to consider. If she were sent to prison, other family members would have to raise the child, he said.
“Isn’t that a somewhat cynical submission?” the magistrate asked. He pointed out that she had used the child but was now saying that separation would be difficult for the child.
He agreed it was the child who would be most affected. “The child has already lost his biological father and now is at risk of losing both parents,” he noted.
The magistrate said a sentence was needed that would be a deterrent to others and would be a denunciation of such offending.
Mr. Furniss reminded the court that Tibbetts had spent just over two months in custody after being brought to court initially. Since then, she had been on an electronic monitor with a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. He suggested that a partially suspended sentence could be imposed for those reasons. It would bring home how seriously the court viewed movement of drugs into prison, he said.
The magistrate told Tibbetts she was going into custody that day and he was reserving his decision on sentence until Sept. 18. Referring to cases cited to him, he pointed out that drugs in prison have greater value than drugs on the street. They are a form of currency and can lead to offenses including injuries to prison guards, he said.
“These are not cases for nominal sentences,” he said.