Convicted Iqaluit drug dealer wants to serve prison time in Manitoba
William Allen Pierce awaits sentencing while held in isolation at BCC
Lawyers are suggesting a jail sentence of between two and a half to three and a half years for an Iqaluit man who pleaded guilty last March to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
William Allan Pierce was arrested and charged in August 2016 after police to seized almost a pound of cocaine from his Iqaluit home, along with marijuana, ecstasy, an unlicensed gun and $9,000 in cash.
Earlier this year, Pierce pleaded guilty to one count of drug trafficking and another count of possession of over $5,000 in proceeds gained from criminal activity, while five other trafficking-related charges were stayed.
Pierce appeared at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit on Friday, May 4 for a sentencing hearing. The 29-year-old, who has been out on bail conditions since 2016, surrendered himself back into custody last month after returning to Nunavut from a family to Manitoba.
Crown lawyer Marian Bryant said a cocaine possession and trafficking charge could result in a sentence of life in prison, though she acknowledged that Pierce has no previous criminal record and has made efforts to upgrade his education since his arrest.
But Bryant also referred to Pierce’s time working as a guard at Baffin Correctional Centre prior to his arrest, saying the accused was well aware of the consequences of drug dealing.
“His moral blameworthiness in this case is high,” Bryant told the court.
She suggested Pierce serve a 36-month sentence for the trafficking conviction and an additional six months for the second conviction.
Pierce’s defence lawyer, Sara Siebert, made a similar sentencing recommendation: two and half to three years in prison.
But Siebert requested that Pierce be transferred to a detention centre in his home province of Manitoba, where he would be closer to his family and his six-year-old daughter.
Seibert described Pierce as a troubled young man who struggled with depression from a young age and turned to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate.
Pierce started working for the Northern Store in Manitoba in his early twenties, eventually getting transferred to stores in Ontario and then Iqaluit, Seibert told the court.
Pierce and his partner had a baby in 2012, but he lost his job the following year due to heavy substance abuse. He worked for a time at the Baffin Correctional Centre but was fired for showing up late and missing shifts.
By 2015, Pierce had started using and dealing cocaine. Siebert described his August 2016 arrest as “a wake-up call.”
She said her client has been sober since then. He’s attended job training and was permitted by the court to leave Nunavut to visit his family in Manitoba earlier this year, where Pierce worked for a time at a retail store.
“That’s to his credit and speaks to his rehabilitative prospects,” Siebert said.
Since returning to Iqaluit from Manitoba last month, Pierce surrendered himself back into custody and is being held in isolation at BCC, due to safety concerns related to his previous work experience there.
At the request of Pierce’s defence lawyer, Justice Bonnie Tulloch recommended Pierce be transferred to another facility while he awaits sentencing.
Tulloch will give her decision on June 25. If Pierce’s transfer is approved, he’ll take part in his sentencing hearing by phone.