A 21-year-old woman who was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday would have seen a very different outcome had she committed her crimes even one year earlier, her lawyer says.

Brittany Thorn was in Kitchener court for fentanyl trafficking. In delivering the sentence, the judge said that selling large amounts of fentanyl could have caused dozens, if not hundreds, of deaths.

Court documents show that Thorn’s arrest came as a result of a police investigation into her boyfriend, Harmanpal Sidhu. Three people had told Waterloo Regional Police that Sidhu was trafficking fentanyl and other drugs.

Last summer, undercover officers bought heroin from Sidhu on five separate occasions. All five times, tests determined that the drug was actually fentanyl being marketed as heroin.

A sixth purchase was arranged for a day in mid-August. On that day, surveillance officers watched as Sidhu met with the undercover officer in his vehicle, while Thorn stood nearby. They believed she was carrying the drugs, and would turn them over once Sidhu was sure he would be paid.

Officers moved in and arrested both Sidhu and Thorn. Fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in Thorn’s purse, while marijuana and cash were in the glove compartment of the vehicle.

The next day, officers searched the home Sidhu and Thorn lived in on Third Avenue in Kitchener.

There, they found meth, heroin, fentanyl and marijuana with a combined street value of nearly $100,000.

Thorn’s six-year sentence was a joint recommendation of her lawyer, Ryan Heighton, and the Crown.

Speaking outside court, Heighton said that the proliferation of fentanyl has left defence lawyers with few options other than “damage control” in cases involving the drug.

“We’re trying to keep it on the lower end, but the lower end of the sentencing range just keeps creeping up because of the problems in the community,” he said.

“She’s essentially accepted her fate … and she’s moving on to the rehabilitative stage.”

Sidhu will be sentenced next month, with the Crown expected to seek a sentence of 10 to 12 years.

With reporting by Nicole Lampa