B.C. appeal court backs lower court’s acquittal of drug charges

By The Canadian Press
December 22, 2016 - 4:04pm

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s Court of Appeal says a judge did not make an error in law when he found that a man charged with trafficking marijuana in Vancouver was unlawfully arrested. 

Eugenio Alfonso Bahamonde was acquitted of one charge each of trafficking and possession of marijuana after a provincial court judge ruled he was unlawfully arrested in November 2012 and that evidence seized by the RCMP from his vehicle after his arrest was inadmissible.

In its appeal, the Crown argued, among other things, that the trial judge erred in assessing the sufficiency of a constable’s grounds for making the arrest.

The trial judge took issue with different parts of his testimony, including that the officer attempted to impress the court by suggesting he could lip read and that he detected the odour of marijuana on Bahamonde after his arrest when no other officers made that observation.

The judge ruled that the unreliability of the officer’s evidence meant the search of Bahamonde’s vehicle was a breach of his charter rights.

A three-judge panel of the appeal court unanimously dismissed the Crown’s appeal.

In its decision released Thursday, the court says “although the trial judge was overly critical” of the constable “and erred in addressing aspects of the evidence, the errors were not such as to undermine the judge’s overall assessment of the reliability” of his evidence.

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