Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jul 2005
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Author: Chris Thomas
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Defence Lawyer Says 'Sweet Deals' For Clients The Result

The Simcoe Reformer -- Two crack cocaine charges, including one against a 
65-year-old grandmother, touched off complaints in Simcoe court yesterday 
from the judge and Crown prosecutor over the staffing of the drug unit at 
the Norfolk OPP detachment.

Both Justice Brian Stead and Crown prosecutor Mike McArthur expressed 
dismay that there was only one officer assigned to the drug unit at a time 
when the judge said "crack (cocaine) is running rampant" in the community.

Sixty-five-year-old Hildegarde Doyon, Chapel Street, was charged with 
possession of crack cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, as well as two 
counts of possession of crack cocaine when police executed a search warrant 
at her residence March 23.

A total of 3.7 grams of crack cocaine, some "unknown" tablets and a 
quantity of money was seized. She had a prior record for trafficking in 1999.

Doyon, who had spent 21 days in custody prior to her court appearance, 
pleaded guilty to simple possession and was sentenced to a further three 
days in jail.

In another case, 51-year-old Helen Bobbitt pleaded guilty to possession of 
crack cocaine and breach of probation and was sentenced to two months in 
custody after spending 20 days in pre-court custody. Police found a small 
quantity of crack and drug paraphernalia when they executed a search 
warrant at her Colborne Street apartment July 7.

A charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking against Bobbitt, who 
was on probation at the time and has a prior record, was dismissed.

Defence lawyer Steve Guiler, who represented both people facing the crack 
cocaine charges yesterday, said he got "sweet deals" for his clients 
because of difficulties in getting information from the prosecution.

He particularly cited information contained in search warrants which are 
routinely requested by police to be sealed in order to protect confidential 
informants and the presence of an ongoing investigation. It requires an 
application to a judge for the warrant information to be unsealed, 
including input from police.

"If someone is in custody, there are clear delay and fair trial issues," he 

Guiler said the job of police does not end with the laying of a charge. He 
said they must also liaise with the Crown and be available for information 

"The amount of work it takes to prosecute a drug charge is overwhelming," 
he said.

While enforcement activities are ongoing, McArthur said the the local 
detachment "doesn't have the resources for follow up." "The demands on the 
officer are overwhelming," he agreed.

McArthur said he is having difficulties getting disclosure information for 
defence lawyers which is "constitutionally mandated." "I'm not getting the 
paperwork," he said, warning that effective prosecutions can be compromised.

Sgt. Dave Stelpstra of the criminal investigations unit of the Norfolk OPP 
told the Reformer he was "surprised" to learn there were disclosure 
problems with yesterday's cases.

Stelpstra said it is typical that there is at least one officer assigned to 
drugs at every detachment. He added that the local detachment often calls 
on the resources out of the OPP's West Region in London

Stead said, at one time in addition to the OPP, the Royal Canadian Mounted 
Police had a four-man unit based in Simcoe working "just on marijuana." The 
unit was moved to Woodstock several years ago. The OPP Drug Enforcement 
Section, based in Orillia, is now mainly responsible for drug investigations.

Staff Sgt. Patty Dobbin said she will call McArthur to discuss the situation
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