Yellowknife man not guilty of drug trafficking charges while his co-accused from Edmonton is convicted

Yellowknife Courthouse (CKLB File photo).

A Yellowknife man has been found not guilty of drug trafficking charges while his co-accused, a man from Edmonton, has been convicted of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking as well as possession of the proceeds of crime.

Gary Gattie, 52, with a shaved head and dressed in a suit, had no comment for CKLB as he left the courtroom Friday afternoon, but he did look somewhat relieved.

He had just walked on the same charges that the Edmonton man had been convicted of.

Supreme Court Judge Shannon Smallwood ruled that the Crown prosecutor and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had failed to directly connect Gattie to 293 grams of crack cocaine and just over $52,000 found in a safe in a bedroom in Gattie’s apartment at the Executive Suites building on 54 St. in Yellowknife in 2017.

However, Smallwood ruled that the man who used that bedroom, essentially as a drug stash room, Liban Muhammed, 28, was directly connected to the safe and its contents.

Digital scales and baggies were also found in the bedroom.

Cell phones seized by police also showed evidence of drug trafficking, Smallwood said.

Both men were tried together last year.

Muhammed was not in court for the verdict.

Court heard that back in 2017, Mounties had the apartment under surveillance, even going so far as to stage a traffic stop in front 0f the apartment with emergency lights and sirens blaring, just to see who came to the apartment window to look out.

Police eventually used a battering ram to break down the front door then kicked in the locked bedroom door as they executed a search warrant on the unit in June of 2017.

Muhammed, who was in the apartment when Mounties raided it, did not offer any evidence in his defence at trial.

Police had testified that they believed Gattie knew exactly what was going on in his apartment, pointing out that he had asked if there had been any other arrests after he was arrested at a downtown restaurant.

Mounties estimated the street value of the drugs at about $46,000.

Muhammed, who was on parole at the time of his arrest, is facing considerable jail time.

He remains free on bail until he is sentenced by Smallwood on June 8th.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.