Case unexpectedly dealt with today
Pharmacist Ann Marie Burke is led out of provincial court in St. John’s Wednesday. She’s due back in court today. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
St. John’s pharmacist Ann Marie Burke was sentenced to more than two years in prison today on drug trafficking charges and for breaching court orders.
Last week Burke pleaded guilty to the drug-traffickiing charges and was to be sentenced next month. However, she was charged this week with four counts of breaching court orders and was taken into custody.
Today, in what was expected to be a brief court appearance for a status update on the case, turned into a sentencing hearing after Burke pleaded guilty to two breach of court order charges. The Crown withdrew the remaining two.
The pharmacist was sentenced to two years plus a day on the drug trafficking-related charges, and 39 days consecutive on the two court order breaches.
She also received 26 days credit for time served leaving two years and four days of the sentence to serve.
Burke’s lawyer, Jon Noonan, told the court Burke has a history of alcoholism that she has battled all of her life, and became addicted to pain killers following a car accident.
"She's remorseful, embarassed and humiliated," Noonon told the court. "This has affected her relationship with her family and she's lost her career. She's accepted responsibility for what she's done."
A St. John’s pharmacist who pleaded guilty last week to drug trafficking charges is back behind bars. Ann Marie Burke returned to provincial court Wednesday afternoon.
She was arrested Tuesday at a bar in a downtown hotel.
The 55-year-old has been charged with four counts of breaching court orders — two for failing to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and one each for being in an establishment that sells alcohol and failing to notify police of a change in address. She was reportedly supposed to be living in Brigus with a family member.
Burke had been sent for a psychiatric assessment Tuesday. On Wednesday, Judge Joseph Woodrow indicated that Burke was deemed mentally fit to stand trial.
Burke’s lawyer, Jon Noonan, and Crown prosecutor John Brooks agreed to set the case over until today. Noonan has made no decision on whether there will be a bail hearing at that time.
Last week in provincial court, Burke pleaded guilty to five charges, which were laid earlier this year when police reportedly discovered she had been dealing illegal drugs.
Those charges include one count of illegal possession of oxycodone; one count of illegal possession of morphine; one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking in methadone; one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking in Ritalin; and one count of possession of marijuana.
Burke, who was a pharmacist at Downtown Pharmacy on Water Street, has a sentencing hearing set for Nov. 21-22.
She was first taken into custody Jan. 19, with much media attention, after RNC officers raided her apartment on LeMarchant Road and reportedly found more than 1,200 prescription narcotics, along with 30 grams of marijuana.
Also seized was $2,100 in cash, weapons — bear spray and a stun gun — and three laptop computers.
Burke was released from custody on several conditions on Feb. 10.
In January, she was suspended by the pharmacy board.