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A P.E.I. woman who took drugs laced with fentanyl was sentenced Thursday to 45 days in jail for court order breaches and given a warning about the dangerous life she is living.
Chelsey Lee Bernard, 20, appeared before Judge Jeff Lantz in provincial court in Charlottetown by video from jail where she has been in custody since her arrest earlier this month.
Bernard pleaded guilty to breaching her probation and two counts of breaching an undertaking.
Reading from an agreed statement of facts, Crown attorney Lisa Goulden told the court that on July 16, Bernard was sentenced on other charges and given 18 months of probation, which included a condition related to addiction treatment.
Goulden told the court that prior to the time Bernard spent in custody she was using hard drugs.
After her release from jail, Bernard got an appointment with an addiction counsellor and Goulden said she was taken to a treatment facility but refused to get out of the vehicle she was in.
Bernard later missed another addiction services appointment.
The court heard addiction services contacted probation several times to report Bernard wasn’t complying.
Goulden told the court Bernard also breached two undertakings by violating no-contact conditions with two men.
Referring to Bernard’s prior criminal record, Goulden said most of the offences were related to the accused not following through with addiction programming.
It was clear Bernard’s criminality was associated with her addiction, Goulden said.
“She was into some pretty serious drug use.”
Fentanyl overdoses in P.E.I.
- There have been three reported fatal fentanyl-related overdoses in P.E.I. in 2020.
- Those deaths involved a man in his 20s, a woman in her 20s and a man in his 40s.
- Not everyone who has an overdose dies and there have been nine reported fentanyl-related cases this year that were not fatal.
- The provincial needle exchange program offers Naloxone kits for people who are at risk of opioid-related overdoses.
The court heard Bernard had also used drugs laced with fentanyl, which is a powerful synthetic opioid.
Goulden said there have been public warnings about the dangers of fentanyl use.
“Miss Bernard is on a very dangerous course here,” Goulden said.
Defence lawyer Alex Dalton said Bernard had underlying mental health and addiction issues, adding it was unfortunate she wasn’t taking advantage of treatment.
The court heard Bernard has been homeless and reports her mental health is poor.
Sitting in a video conference room at the Provincial Correctional Centre, Bernard read from a letter she prepared in which she apologized to the court, legal aid, her father and the justice system for taking up their time.
She also apologized to her addiction counsellor for not getting out of the vehicle, saying it was because she was high.
Bernard said her time spent in custody has been the only thing keeping her clean and she would like to attend addiction treatment, preferably a program “out of town.”
In sentencing Bernard, Lantz said it appears addictions are her big problem and sometimes it takes multiple attempts to deal with them.
There may be slips but Bernard needs to keep working on it, Lantz said.
“The path you’re on now is a dangerous one.”
Lantz said fentanyl is a concern for everyone involved with Bernard and it should be a concern for her too.