Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jan 2017
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Sarnia Observer
Author: Neil Bowen
Page: A2


The search of a teenager by Sarnia police as a common practice for
detained persons was ruled unlawful leading to dismissal of drug
charges in Sarnia court this week. Sarnia police were raiding a family
member's house in 2015 when the adult teenager was seen leaving the
premise. The teenager was detained by an officer and asked if he had
anything to harm an officer. The teen said he had cocaine and "weed."
A search - which the officer testified was for officer safety - turned
up cocaine and marijuana.

Defence lawyer Luigi Perzia argued Wednesday there was a total absence
of justification for an officer-safety search. He sought exclusion of
the drug evidence due to a rights violation.

While the teen's detention was lawful, Justice Mark Hornblower ruled
the search was unlawful. The officer had testified the search was a
routine practice.

Hornblower said that assertion indicates a lack of understanding of
the required prerequisites for such a search. That begins with the
officer's question about having anything that could harm the officer.

Hornblower said that such a search was routine is indicative of a
systemic problem. There was no reference to officer safety by the
officer other than the teen not being in handcuffs.

But Hornblower said there needs to be more, ultimately ruling the
search was a serious infringement of the teen's right.

Due to the infringement, allowing the drug evidence would bring the
administration of justice into disrepute, Hornblower said. Without the
evidence, Hornblower said that charge must be dismissed. The teen's
family member was sentenced in 2016 to three years in prison after
pleading guilty to possession of cocaine for trafficking.

Police found 92 grams of cocaine with a street value of $11,000 in the
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