Man in jail walks free
Yk man held in custody for two months on cocaine charges

Dawn Ostrem
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 04/00) - After spending two months in custody a man walked out of the Yellowknife courthouse a free man on Wednesday.

Conrad David Fraser, 22, of Yellowknife was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking on May 21 after he was arrested at the Yellowknife Airport terminal.

At the time of the arrest $300,000 worth of cocaine was seized from Fraser by the Yellowknife RCMP drug section.

The Crown announced it wished to stay the proceedings during what was scheduled to be Fraser's preliminary hearing on Aug. 2, an announcement that seemingly surprising even judge Robert Halifax.

"He's been in custody for almost two months and now you want a stay?," Halifax asked.

Fraser, dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt, was escorted by a guard to the prisoner's box at the start of the proceedings and left happily through the main courtroom entrance.

The Crown's office would only say that due to legal issues they were not able to proceed with the case.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Dave Grundy said it also had to do with gathering evidence and the availability of witnesses. "Without trying to minimalize that we don't have a body to go to court with, or it appears he may not be coming before the justice system at this time, we did take the 17 ounces of cocaine off the street," Grundy said.

"Sometimes we will not go ahead in court so we would not have to bring in someone from the general public as a witness so we don't hurt them or put them in danger."

"There were no mistakes made, it was just a combination of different things that happened, (it's) the way the justice system works."

Grundy explained that guidelines or case law sets the precedent for which evidence can be gathered and that sometimes changes without the RCMP being aware.

"When we collect evidence we base it on general rules of collecting evidence and from time to time, and it's not often, there are issues that creep up that we're not aware of ... that may make it inadmissible in court and may bring evidence into question on how it's been collected."

When proceedings are stayed the Crown has a year to continue them.

"All I can say is the investigation is continuing," Grundy said.