Pubdate: Wed, 29 Apr 1998
Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Page: A9
Author: Roberta Avery Special To The Star


WALKERTON -- Police officers didn't violate a man's rights when they
ignored his no-trespassing signs and entered a fenced property to search
for marijuana without a warrant, a judge has ruled.

Judge Gary Hunter overruled an argument by defence lawyer Clayton Ruby that
the constitutional rights of John Lauda, 43, of Bentinck Township had been

"It was unrealistic to expect the sort of privacy afforded to private
dwellings in an open field," said the judge, in a verdict issued yesterday
in Ontario Court, provincial division. He sentenced Lauda to three years in
prison on narcotics charges.

Ruby said he will be launching an appeal of the conviction immediately.
Acting on a tip from Crime Stoppers, provincial police entered a field
leased by Lauda in Bentinck Township, about 40 kilometres south of Owen
Sound, on Oct. 22, 1997.

Ruby argued the marijuana was not visible from off the property, so the
search was illegal.

Therefore, the search warrant that was obtained subsequently was also
illegal, he argued.

During the two-day trial in February, police told court they had found
marijuana with an estimated street value of $175,000 in the field and that
Lauda grew marijuana to support his four children.

In 1994, Lauda was acquitted on similar charges. That acquittal was
overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Ruby has appealed that decision
to the Supreme Court of Canada.