Mar 18, 2014

Summary of R. v. Dewolfe

R. v. Dewolfe, 2011 NSPC 1 (CanLII)
The accused, who was charged with various drug offences and theft of telecommunication services, alleged that his Charter rights had been violated when the police searched his residence pursuant to a warrant issued under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.Although the information provided in the redacted Information to Obtain ('ITO') failed to provide sufficient grounds to authorize the search of the property, resulting in a violation of the accused's s. 8 rights, the evidence will be admitted. The ITO was not time-specific as to when the source had been present at the property, nor was it possible to determine the frequency of the visits to the property and, absent any such detail, the court could not assess whether certain statements attributed to the source were any more than bald conclusory statements based on mere rumour or gossip. This had not been compensated for by greater detail about the alleged grow operation, increasing the possibility that the information was based upon rumour and gossip rather than actual observations. There was no confirmation as to whether past information provided by the source had led to arrests or convictions and, although the ITO indicated that the reliability of the source had been tested eight times by way of positive searches, it was not clear how recent those searches were. Even though the court accepted that theft of electricity was commonly associated with grow operations and the rate of power consumption was eight times that registered by the meter, it was unclear whether the rate of consumption was in excess of what might reasonably be expected for a similar property. Further, the absence of any detail from the source about the use of lights gave rise to a level of disconnect between the alleged electricity theft and the suspected grow operation. However, the police had acted in good faith in acquiring legal authorization for the search and the accused's decision not to challenge the redacted ITO in any way made it entirely inappropriate to presume that they had did anything other than conduct themselves as required. Although the search involved the accused's home, where he had a high expectation of privacy, the evidence sought to be excluded was entirely reliable and essential to the Crown's case and the charges were serious.