A federal Crown attorney has withdrawn drug charges against a North Bay man and a Quebec man, after evidence in the case—a $2.5 million marijuana bust March 29, 2003, on Exeter Street in the city—was thrown out last month by a Superior Court judge.
Paul Trenker told Superior Court Justice Norm Karam Friday the Crown would not proceed against Alain Roy, of North Bay, and Yvon Henault, of Quebec.
“My clients are very pleased with the result,” said defence lawyer Andrew Perrin.
“This is a good day for the people in the city because it shows Charter rights are more than just a suggestion by the law.”
Filed an application
Roy and Henault had gone to court seeking to have the evidence excised, with their lawyer, Andrew Perrin, arguing police had violated his clients rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms while seizing that evidence.
Perrin had filed an application under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, sections eight, nine, and 10b of the charter, and Karam ruled in his favour last month, quashing two search warrants and excluding all the evidence, including the marijuana seized during the bust.
Section eight of the charter protects Canadians from illegal search and seizure, section nine protects Canadians from arbitrary detention, and section 10b deals with rights to counsel, Perrin said.
"I asked the court in my application to exclude the evidence because of the violations under sections eight, nine and 10b, stating that to admit the evidence would place the administration of justice in disrepute,” Perrin said.
Shall be excluded
"For oral reasons provided, all evidence emanating from and following the stopping of the accused vehicle on March 29, 2003, shall be excluded," The Nugget quoted Justice Karam stating through a document the newspaper had obtained.
Perrin said the search warrants used by police against Roy and Henault “were based on faulty grounds.”
North Bay police chief Paul Cook said his officers are “well aware” of legislative requirements and case law relating to search and seizure.
“Our officers acted appropriately to move forward with the laying of a charge after a vehicle stop,” Cook said.
One thing keep in mind, Cook added, is while police officers, faced with a set of circumstances, often have to make decisions on the spot, “the courts, an independent body have quite literally years to argue whether or not what went on was appropriate as it relates to both case law and legislation.”
“So I have no difficulty with what’s transpired here,” Cook said.
Nor was the matter a training issue.
“An officer was faced with set of circumstances, he affected an arrest and there was a subsequent search later,” Cook said.
“An independent body, the judge, then ruled the officer didn’t have requisite grounds to do the initial search.”
Police had charged Roy and Henault with producing marijuana, possessing it for the purpose of trafficking, and possession and theft of electricity.
The case had been the largest indoor marijuana bust in North Bay history.