Pubdate: Fri, 07 Mar 2008
Source: Now, The (Surrey, CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 South Fraser Publishing Ltd.
Author: Tom Zytaruk


Mark Thomas Dreyer is off the hook.

A B.C. Court of Appeal judge has overturned Dreyer's drug conviction
and acquitted him of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking
after finding an RCMP search was unlawful.

Dreyer was convicted of the charge on January 24, 2007 by a Surrey
provincial court judge. The charge arose from an incident that
happened on September 8, 2005 in White Rock. Two Mounties in a patrol
car pulled Dreyer and his sister over because she was driving the
family car with the taillights off. Dreyer was a passenger in the front seat.

One of the Mounties spotted an open beer bottle on the floor behind
the driver's seat and told the brother and sister to get out of the
car while they searched it.

The court heard that one of the officers spotted a crumpled brown
paper bag between the driver's seat and console, looked inside and
found four half-gram packages of cocaine. Under the front seat, they
also found a plastic Ziploc bag with two half-gram packs of cocaine

B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Ian Donald found that the search was not
authorized under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act and that the
trial judge was wrong in holding that the appellant had no reasonable
expectation of privacy.

Because Dreyer's sister was chauffeuring him around in the family car,
Donald noted, he had "the same expectation of privacy of his property
in the car as would a passenger with a shopping bag in a taxi."

Donald noted that Dreyer had testified he stashed the drugs in the bag
"to prevent theft from customers. Keeping the drugs out of sight is
connected with his concern for privacy."

The Liquor Control and Licensing Act doesn't authorize a blanket
search, Donald noted. "The officer turned up the drugs knowing full
well that the bag contained no alcohol.

"If in the course of a liquor search illicit drugs come into plain
view, seizure can be valid. This is not such a case."

Donald found that the cocaine seized in the search "was crucial to
proof of the offence. Exclusion leads to an acquittal. I would allow
the appeal, set aside the conviction, and substitute a verdict of
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