Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jun 2003
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Province
Author: Adrienne Tanner


Drug-trafficking charge fails on grounds that Charter rights violated

By his own admission, Lindh Carlson was caught red-handed with a van load of

A self-confessed dabbler in B.C.'s marijuana-cultivation business, Carlson
told court that when Surrey police asked him to open the van, a marijuana
plant tumbled out the rear door.

Nonetheless, Carlson was acquitted of the resulting trafficking charges on
grounds that his Charter rights had been violated during the search.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith said at a court hearing that the
officer did not have sufficient reason to investigate Carlson.

"There is no general right to detain and search based on a hunch," Smith
stated in a written decision released March 21.

"In general, citizens of Canada are to be free to go about their business
and not to be detained by the police."

Const. Paulena Gidda was summoned to 121st Street and 101A Avenue in Surrey
by a caller complaining of two men in a white van posing as Green Team
undercover police officers. They claimed they were staking out a grow
operation but fled when the caller asked for identification.

When Gidda arrived, the white van was gone. In the driveway of the home was
a brown van with an Alberta licence plate dangling by one screw.

When the brown van pulled away with Carlson at the wheel, Gidda pulled it
over and asked to see his driver's licence. From the window wafted a strong
odour of marijuana.

Gidda claimed she read Carlson his rights and then searched the van. Inside
were 135 potted marijuana plants.

Carlson insisted Gidda did not read him his rights before demanding he open
the van door.

Smith did not believe the constable pulled over the van for a dangling
licence plate because she did not ticket Carlson for any motor-vehicle

The judge ruled Carlson was wrongfully detained, the search of the van was
unlawful and that to proceed with the charge would place the administration
of justice into disrepute.

Her final words to Carlson were undoubtedly most welcome: "Mr. Carlson, you
have been found not guilty. You are free to go."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh