A Chilliwack woman who pleaded guilty to two drug-related charges has been given a 22 month conditional sentence order (CSO).
Saying a custodial (jail) sentence wasn’t necessary, B.C. Supreme Court justice Baljinder Girn handed her verdict to Chelsey Loranger, 29, on Friday (Feb. 10). Girn imposed 24-hour-a-day house arrest at Loranger’s mother’s Chilliwack residence until Loranger can secure a bed at a residential substance treatment centre. She is banned from drugs and alcohol and she must attend any treatment programs recommended by the CSO supervisor. When Loranger is released from residential treatment, she’ll face a curfew and will have to complete 50 hours of community service. She’ll have 12 months probation after the CSO is done.
Federal Crown prosecutor Francois Lepine was seeking between 18 and 24 months jail time for a nearly five-year-old case dating back to Aug. 15, 2018.
On that day, Chilliwack RCMP had Loranger and co-accused Jeff Brian Aubie under surveillance. Both were already known to police, who watched them coming in and out of a Robson Street house. Officers saw Aubie emerge from the home, meet someone nearby, make an exchange and head back. When they arrested the man Aubie met with, they found him with .84 grams of cocaine.
Soon after, Loranger was seen leaving the house and handing something through the driver’s side window of a truck.
That gave them a reason to stop and search Aubie and Loranger and two other men when they left the house in a minivan.
Loranger, who was wanted on a previous warrant, had drugs hidden in her bra and her purse, and she also had a scale, drug baggies and more than $9,000 in cash bundled up in four rolls. Police found a knife and brass knuckles in the van along with two cell phones which were described as “constantly ringing.” One of the phones had text messages from people asking for drugs.
A search of the house turned up more drugs, a money counter, drug packaging, a scale and two more cell phones.
Loranger pleaded guilty to two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, one of cocaine and the other of fentanyl.
Defence lawyer Conor Muldoon argued for a 14 month CSO. He portrayed his client as a young woman who was 24 at the time of the crime, doing bad things to feed her own drug addiction. He said she came from a disadvantaged upbringing that saw her father die of a drug overdose when she was four years old. He was Indigenous, and Muldoon suggested Loranger suffered a “fractured relationship” with her extended family after he died.
“That is one of the most difficult things that any child would have to deal with,” he said.
She started using substances when she was 13. After dropping out of school after Grade 10 she started depending on men for food, housing, financial stability and a steady supply of drugs.
“We have a person who has had a fractured life with constant death and despair in her family,” Muldoon said. “She was bullied in high school. She has a cognitive deficit. She doesn’t have a great deal of structure and finds some kind of strength or security in relationships with men. And clearly these men she is choosing are not going to assist Ms. Loranger in getting to where she needs to be in her life.”
Loranger has another matter pending in BC Provincial Court where she is the co-accused to a male suspect in an assault and attempted kidnapping from September, 2022. She’s been in custody since. Muldoon said Loranger’s drug abuse is being treated for the first time and she recognizes that she’s “at a crossroads” in her life.
“The offending is inextricably linked to a drug addiction, and she’s now addressed the drug addiction,” he noted.
Loranger briefly addressed the court, saying she was “sorry for wasting everyone’s time.”
“I wish you well,” Girn said. “This is your chance to get yourself clean. You already started that in custody. Your lawyer worked very hard to get you this sentence. Don’t let him down, but most importantly don’t let yourself down.”
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