Appeal Court orders stiffer sentence for drug dealer's girlfriend

Appeal Court orders stiffer sentence for drug dealer's girlfriend

A woman who lived a lavish lifestyle thanks to her drug-dealing boyfriend now has a criminal conviction and a stiffer sentence for money laundering and possession of the proceeds of crime.

Jacqueline Christine Garnett was found guilty last May and received a conditional discharge. In a decision released Monday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal said that sentence was "manifestly unfit".

Garnett was the common-law partner of Sean Decker, who the court identified as a major drug dealer. He's serving a 9½ year sentence for trafficking in marijuana, hashish and cocaine.

At the time of Decker's arrest, Garnett said she was "shocked" to learn of her boyfriend's job.

In its appeal of Garnett's sentence, the Crown said her assets included a condominium, a 14-karat gold diamond ring, a Breitling watch, a Harley-Davidson and $178,950 in Canadian currency.

During the period she collected all these things, Garnet earned up to $21,500 a year as a receptionist at a spa. Decker claimed to be making $24,900 from his excavation business.

Forensic accounting suggested the couple had unexplained income of between $284,000 and $725,000.

"For her to have lost her ill-gotten gains through forfeiture can hardly be described as a negative consequence of being involved in these offences," Justice Ted Scanlan wrote for the three-member Appeal Court panel.

"She lost what she should not have possessed in the first place."

The court imposed a two-year conditional sentence. Garnett must live under a curfew for the next eight months and must abstain from drugs and alcohol. She's also been ordered to stay away from Decker.