Pubdate: Thu, 18 Sep 2008
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008, OSPREY Media Group Inc.
Author: Neil Bowen


A man whose rights were violated when police searched his car for
marijuana was still sentenced to six months probation in Sarnia court.

The 23-year-old had 35 grams of marijuana in his car's trunk on June
24, 2007.

He was arrested for failing to remain at the scene of an accident
after a pedestrian was struck in a bar parking lot.

Defence lawyer Don Elliott argued Tuesday that a police search of his
car violated the Charter of Rights, which prohibits unreasonable searches.

Officers had stated they were looking for weapons or alcohol, but the
search served no purpose, he said.

Justice Mark Hornblower agreed.

There was no basis for a weapons search to ensure officer safety,
because the suspect was already in a police cruiser, he said

And an officer had already decided the man was not impaired, so
searching for alcohol was not necessary for an impaired driving
investigation, Hornblower said.

He added it was unreasonable to assume the man was drinking in the car
in violation of liquor laws, because he had been drinking at the bar.

Though the search violated the man's rights, the marijuana should
still be evidence in the drug possession trial, Hornblower said.

Inclusion of that evidence would not bring the administration of
justice into disrepute, he said.

The man was convicted of marijuana possession, but granted a
conditional discharge.

It was his first offence and the discharge was warranted by the
circumstances, Hornblower said.

To earn the discharge, he must perform 25 hours of community service
during six months of probation.

It is The Observer's policy not to identify those granted a discharge.
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