‘She’s humiliated’

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on October 14, 2011
St. John’s pharmacist Ann Marie Burke was back in provincial court in St. John’s Thursday, where she was sentenced to a federal jail term. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

Nine months ago, she shuffled into court wearing slippers and a green bath robe.

On Thursday, Ann Marie Burke was composed as she was led back to jail to begin serving a federal term.

The St. John’s pharmacist was sentenced to two years and 31 days behind bars on drug-related charges and breaching court orders.

She was given straight-time credit for the 26 days she’s already served in custody, leaving two years and five days on her term.

“She’s remorseful, she’s embarrassed and she’s humiliated," Burke’s lawyer, Jon Noonan, said during Burke’s sentencing hearing at provincial court.

“This has affected her relationship with her family and she’s lost her career. …  She’s accepted responsibility for what she’s done.”

The 55-year-old was first arrested Jan. 18, with much media attention, after RNC officers raided her apartment on LeMarchant Road in St. John’s. Officers used a battering ram to open the door.

Once inside, officers found more than 1,200 prescription narcotics, along with 30 grams of marijuana.

The majority of the drugs were found in Burke’s nightstand in her bedroom, while others were discovered under her mattress and under the couch.

Officers also located a notebook containing contact information related to the sale of the drugs.

Also seized was more than $2,100 in cash, weapons — bear spray and a stun gun — and three laptop computers, along with jewelry and clothing, digital scales and four social services cheques belonging to various people.

The jewelry and clothing were believed to have been stolen, but police have been unable to determine from where.

Burke, who had been a pharmacist at Downtown Pharmacy on Water Street, was released from custody on several conditions on Feb. 9.

Last week in court, she pleaded guilty to five drug-related charges. Three of them dealing with possessing narcotics — oxycodone, morphine and marijuana — while two deal with possessing narcotics for the purpose of trafficking — methadone and Ritalin.

She was scheduled to be sentenced next month.

However, she was arrested again Tuesday, when she was spotted consuming alcohol at the bar at the Delta Hotel — a violation of her release conditions. She was also supposed to be living with her sister in Brigus, but it was determined she hadn’t lived there in over a month.

Thursday was expected to be a brief court appearance for a status update on the case, but it turned into a sentencing hearing after Burke pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching court orders and lawyers came to an agreement on sentencing.

During the hearing, Crown prosecutor Brenda Boyd pointed out that Burke had been in a position of trust.

“Ms. Burke is a pharmacist. Her position gave her access to these drugs,” Boyd said.

“This is a breach of trust and therefore has to be treated more seriously than other drug-trafficking cases.”

Noonan told Judge Joseph Woodrow that Burke is a mother of two daughters and has never been in trouble with the law before.

He said Burke battled alcoholism for years and became addicted to pain killers following a car accident in the early 2000s.

She has completed treatment programs and is determined to better her life.

“She still has a ways to go, but she hopes to get more help (while in federal prison).”

Outside court, Noonan told reporters that Burke “is ready to face the music.”

Meanwhile, a St. John’s man who was reportedly at Burke’s apartment the night she was arrested also faces drug charges in relation to the incident.

Christopher Robert Hollett — who was sentenced to 29 months in jail last month for a road-rage incident — will be back in court Nov. 23 to face five charges dealing with possessing narcotics and possessing narcotics for the purpose of trafficking.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyCourt