Pubdate: Thu, 13 Dec 2012
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Rochelle Baker


An Abbotsford marijuana advocate charged with drug trafficking was
acquitted Monday when a judge tossed out the evidence after ruling a
police search violated the accused's Charter rights.

Pot activist Tim Felger was charged with one count of possession and
six counts of drug trafficking after Abbotsford Police raided his Da
Kine shop on Essendene Avenue in Abbotsford on May 13, 2009.

Chilliwack Supreme Court Justice Brian Joyce had ruled on Oct. 26 that
Abbotsford Police had conducted an unlawful search at Da Kine, but
reserved his decision about what evidence, if any, from the search
would be allowed.

However, on Monday Joyce stated he was excluding all the evidence and
dismissed the charges against Felger. The Crown did not make any
submissions and is expected to appeal the ruling. Joyce will provide
his reasons for the decision at a future date.

Prior to the decision, court heard that Abbotsford undercover police
officers originally entered the store without a warrant.

This despite the fact Felger had informed the APD and posted signs on
the door of his store warning that police were not welcome on the
property without a warrant.

Following the initial warrantless search, officers used their
observations to obtain a warrant for a second search.

After the police search was deemed illegal, Felger's defence lawyer,
Ken Beatch, emphasized the importance of case in limiting the power of
the police to search a person's store or residence without prior
judicial authorization. The case is also significant because it
touches on citizens' expectation of privacy in their homes and private
businesses under the Charter, he said.

At the time of his arrest, the APD alleged Felger had been selling pot
to minors. However, no evidence was presented at trial that suggested
Felger was peddling drugs to youth.

Natasha Healy, Felger's co-accused, had her three counts of
trafficking dismissed as well on Monday.

Felger said that he and his lawyer "made law the hard way" and it
clarifies property rights with regard to searches.

"It confirms that if a police officer enters your property without a
warrant and you ask them to leave, then they are trespassing if they
do not immediately leave," he said.

Felger plans to head to civil court in an effort to regain possession
of the Da Kine building, his business licence in Abbotsford and
address the APD's allegations he was selling marijuana to teens.

He also wants possessions such as a computer and camera seized in the
Abbotsford raid returned.

Felger has unsuccessfully run for government office on a platform to
legalize drugs. His Da Kine store, which displayed signs calling for
an end to drug prohibition, was closed following a protracted battle
with the city. He moved his operations to Mission in the fall of 2010,
opening the Das Bhang Convenience Store and Political Office on Horne

He was arrested and charged with a second set of drug trafficking
charges after Mission RCMP arrested him in February 2011.

Similar to the APD operation, the Mounties used an undercover officer
to set up a sting and arrested Felger for allegedly selling pot out of
the Das Bhang store.

The Mission charges will likely not proceed in court until there is a
decision on the appeal in the Abbotsford case, said Beatch.
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