HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html 'Weed King' Found Guilty
Pubdate: Tue, 02 Dec 2008
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Windsor Star
Author: Craig Pearson, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


A medical-marijuana activist known as DaWeedKing and his wife were
found guilty Monday of cultivating 27 pot plants, almost 44 months
after they were arrested at their Albert Road home.

Though Fred Pritchard, 41, and Renee Pritchard, 45 -- who moved seven
months ago to Vancouver where they now work -- were found guilty of
producing marijuana, Superior Court Justice Steve Rogin dismissed a
charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Rogin sentenced Renee -- who has no prior criminal record -- to six
months of house arrest, requiring her to remain at her home between 7
p.m. and 7 a.m. unless she has prior written approval from a parole
officer. A sentencing hearing was set Feb. 27 for Fred since the Crown
is seeking a period of incarceration. He has a criminal record and is
considered the primary marijuana cultivator.

The couple must forfeit grow-op equipment and $1,100 seized in the

Fred Pritchard said outside court that he was disappointed the
medical-marijuana aspect of his activities -- he has previously run
the Marijuana Compassion Club of Windsor under the moniker DaWeedKing
- -- was not brought out at trial.

"It's sad," he said of his current legal troubles, which began when
his home was raided May 6, 2005. "But at least it's over."

The case was adjourned last February after Rogin instructed Windsor
police Const. Mauro Hernandez to retrieve notes indicating the
reliability of the informants he used to obtain a search warrant for
the Pritchards' home.

The Pritchards had filed affidavits swearing that nobody but them had
been in the area of their home where they grew marijuana plants during
the time of the police investigation.

The defence had suggested that if police don't have to provide any
information on their informants, they can claim anything they like.

On Monday, Hernandez told the court the two informants he used had
been between 20 per cent and 100 per cent accurate on eight previous
occasions when they said drugs would be found at various buildings,
which led to arrests.

Rogin did not require Hernandez to say anything that might identify an
informant and dismissed the defence application to quash the warrant.

But Rogin added another wrinkle when he suggested he may have provided
an opportunity for an appeal by letting slip how he planned to rule
before asking for a defence submission on the topic. "I made a mistake
in law," he told the court. "I can't take that back.

"It clearly opens the door for someone to say I prejudged the

Defence lawyer Frank Miller said afterward he has no plans to appeal
the verdict. But he called the case "a huge victory" for defendants
who want to know more about how warrants are obtained by police.

"It's the first case where an application has been allowed to
cross-examine a police officer on the reliability of an informant,"
Miller said. "The police officer says it's a reliable informant. We're
saying, that's his opinion.

"We're no longer going to have accept the bald opinion of a police
officer on the track record of an informant."

Federal prosecutor Richard Pollock, however, said the case provided
nothing new for defendants.

"Defence lawyers have always been allowed to ask police about
informants' reliability, as long as it doesn't infringe on the
police-informant privilege," Pollock said. "I'm very pleased that
privilege was upheld."
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