Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2004
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2004 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Kevin O'Connor, Leader-Post


A B.C. man charged with growing marijuana at a large hydroponic
operation near Chamberlain is now a free man after a Regina judge
ruled the Crown and police made several errors bringing the case to

Queen's Bench Justice Darla Hunter ruled Wednesday that as a result of
the errors, a judicial stay of George Andrew Hirschboltz's charges is

"Proceeding to trial in this case, and if a conviction were obtained,
would, in my view be a conviction obtained at too high a price,"
Hunter said, reading from her 17-page judgement.

"The harm caused to the administration of justice would outweigh any
benefit society would receive from convicting Hirschboltz of these

Hirschboltz was one of a group of men charged with production of
marijuana and possession of more than three kilograms of the drug
following a raid on a farm property north of Chamberlain on Aug. 23,

RCMP, Regina city police and other agencies participated in the
operation that resulted in the seizure of more than 650 marijuana plants.

Hunter said she based her decision to stay the charges on a number of

She said the Crown didn't provide full disclosure -- documents
supporting the Crown's case -- to the defence until a few days before
the trial was to begin.

The Crown also inadvertently released information about a police
informant that might cause an additional unfair delay to

"The combination of Crown errors in this prosecution would mean that
the continued prosecution of Hirschboltz would be unfair and would
bring the administration of justice into disrepute," Hunter wrote in
the decision.

She added that the "stigma" of drug charges has been hanging over
Hirschboltz's head for more than two years.

Last year, one of the other men charged in connection with the case
received a 15-month conditional sentence after pleading guilty to
producing marijuana.

Court heard at Ronald Francis Lafleur's March 24 sentencing that
police seized 663 marijuana plants. According to the Crown, when dried
the plants would yield about 62 kgs of saleable product worth an
estimated $406,000.

Wednesday's decision marks the second time this month a drug case has
collapsed following a judicial ruling about the rights of the accused.

On Jan. 8, Queen's Bench Justice Eugene Scheibel ruled that an Ontario
man's Charter rights had been violated during a police search of his
car in 2002 that yielded 38,000 ecstasy pills .

After the judge excluded the evidence, the Crown stayed the charges.
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