Drug trial for N’dilo mother and daughter begins Wednesday

It’s not everyday that you see an almost 80-year-old grandmother go on trial for drug trafficking but that is exactly what is happening in Supreme Court in Yellowknife starting Wednesday.

N’dilo residents Vitaline Lafferty, 79, and her 58-year-old daughter Mary Ann Lafferty both pleaded not guilty to several charges Tuesday including possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

They were arrested and charged in April of 2016 after RCMP stopped a vehicle near Fort Providence.

The Laffertys were caught up in a massive drug sweep dubbed Operation Green Manalishi by the Mounties.

Phone taps played in court during trials for others charged in the sweep indicate that the mother and daughter were acting as couriers and driving drugs up to Yellowknife.

It is expected that they may argue that they did not know exactly what they were delivering.

A 14 person jury was selected Tuesday, 12 jurors and two alternates.

The jury is made up of nine women and five men.

They were selected after a tedious day and a half long process that began with frustration from hundreds of potential jurors Monday when a translator failed to show up for the proceeding.

A court spokesperson reportedly stated that the delay will cost taxpayers an extra $1,190 – the cost of renting a room at the Explorer Hotel Tuesday.

The courtroom itself is not large enough to accommodate the hundreds of potential jurors.

The Chipewyan translator was there Tuesday as she will be throughout the trial which is expected to last about two weeks.

The translator was requested by the elder Lafferty which is her right under the law.

The trial will be presided over by Judge Shannon Smallwood.




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).

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