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A young Hants County mother has pleaded guilty to trying to sneak drugs to someone in custody at the provincial courthouse in Halifax 18 months ago.
Alexa Dawn Smith, 23, of Upper Rawdon is a former janitor at the Spring Garden Road courthouse. In a video played Thursday for the court, Crown attorney Steve Lichti presented an interview of more than an hour in length that a police officer with the integrated Halifax Regional Police and RCMP special enforcement section had conducted with Smith.
“I did it because he was a good talker,” Smith said in the interview in which she described duct-taping the packages under an L-shaped bench on the night of April 5, 2017, after talking several times by telephone with a prisoner at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.
Deputy sheriffs conducting a routine inspection of the courthouse holding cells the next morning found the marijuana. A security video allegedly shows a male prisoner checking beneath the bench upon his arrival later that same morning.
Lichti said there have not been any related arrests made in the case.
In the police interview, Smith tells of waiting for other cleaning staff to depart before shutting off the lights, even though she knew that the cells were under videotaped surveillance.
“I knew in the moment that I could go to jail,” she said on tape. “I was more worried about living.”
Smith said in the interview that the man who called her several times from the Burnside jail told her that he had once threatened to kill a police officer with a knife.
“If he threatened cops with a knife, what else is he capable of doing?”
She also told the officer that the Burnside inmate had promised her a reward of looking after her and her children and that she would be set up with whatever tattoos she wanted.
Smith described being told by the inmate to call someone to set up the drug pickup. She said she met a stocky, six-foot man with “piercing blue eyes” who drove a red car in the parking lot of the Downsview Plaza mall in Lower Sackville.
“He passed it to me and I got back in my car,” she said. “I have no idea who he is.”
For a good portion of the long interview, Smith maintained that the call from the Burnside jail was from a man she didn’t know who mysteriously obtained her phone number and knew her address. She said the man threatened that she would be “scalped” in front of her children if she didn’t comply with the plan to stow the drugs under the courthouse bench.
The police officer continued to say that the threat part of her story did not make sense, that the threat to harm her would actually be a more serious crime than bringing drugs into a lockup.
“There are easier ways to get drugs into a jail,” the officer told her.
Finally, Smith capitulated in the taped interview.
“I wasn’t threatened,” she said. “I did it because he was a good talker, I guess.
“I just did it because I am a f---king idiot.”
A sobbing Smith told the officer, “I did something f---ing terrible. I want to be a normal person, to have a normal life and to have happy kids.
“I am not a lawbreaker.”
Smith had been charged with trafficking marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking. When she changed her plea to guilty on the trafficking charge Thursday through defence lawyer Peter Planetta, the possession charge was withdrawn.
Lichti had intended to call 10 witnesses before Judge Gregory Lenehan but said their testimony was rendered unnecessary by the guilty plea. The interview videotape was one of three exhibits placed into evidence by the Crown on Thursday. The second is a cellblock video and the third is an audiotape of Smith talking with different people, likely including the Burnside jail inmate. Neither of those two exhibits were played Thursday.
The case will be back in court Feb. 1 for closing arguments and a possible sentencing.
A conviction of trafficking involving a lockup usually carries a minimum punishment of two years in prison.