HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Major Marijuana Charges Dismissed After Key Mix-up
Pubdate: Mon, 27 Sep 2004
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2004 Southam Inc.
Author: Shannon Kari, CanWest News Service
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


TORONTO - All charges have been dismissed against four men arrested in
what was the largest ever marijuana grow-op seizure in Ontario --
because police could not link evidence from the raid to any specific

Justice Ford Clements dismissed a series of trafficking charges
against four Vietnamese men arrested in November, 2002 when more than
9,500 marijuana plants were discovered in an industrial building in

It is rare for a judge to discharge defendants after a preliminary
hearing. The prosecution must only show there is "any evidence upon
which a reasonable jury properly instructed could return a verdict of
guilty," for a proceeding to continue to trial. Judge Clements ruled
however, that there was no evidence that would show a "rational
inference" any of the four men had control of the building, in a
decision released Friday.

The marijuana plants, with a street value of $11-million, filled about
2,800 square metres on two floors of the warehouse. The seizure by
Peel Regional Police was the largest in the province until earlier
this year, when more than 25,000 plants were discovered in a former
Molson brewery building in Barrie.

The four defendants in the Mississauga seizure were arrested as they
were leaving the front office section of the warehouse. Police also
seized seven sets of keys from the four men.

During the preliminary hearing this summer, the court heard that at
least one of the keys opened the office of the building, but there was
no evidence the keys opened the back area where the marijuana was located.

The exhibits officer in the investigation admitted that some of the
sets of keys were mixed together by Peel police.

"They couldn't keep straight which keys belonged to each accused,"
said criminal lawyer Peter Zaduk, who represented one of the
defendants. "They utterly failed to prove that any particular accused
had a key to the warehouse."

He added that the Crown did not enter any evidence that would link the
defendants to any rental or leasing agreement for the warehouse.

One officer testified at the hearing that the keys were thrown
together on the passenger side of a police car when the four men were
arrested. Some of the keys were kept for several months in an unsealed
envelope in a desk at the police station, the court heard.
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