Mar 18, 2014

Summary of R. v. Cater, Cater and Lewis

R. v. Cater, Cater and Lewis, 2011 NSPC 99 (CanLII)
The accused challenged the validity of a search warrant executed at their residence. They argued the Information to Obtain ('ITO') did not contain reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a firearm was located there and was not drafted with sufficient care so as to avoid misleading the justice of the peace. The ITO characterized the accused's son as a drug dealer and indicated that ambiguous intercepted calls between him and the accused included discussions about firearms, with the officer providing detailed reasons for this belief. The defence argued the inferences drawn by the officer were mere hunches and the conversations could not support a reasonable inference that the subject under discussion was a temporarily misplaced firearm.The firearms seized are admissible at trial. It could reasonably be inferred a firearm was being discussed, thus providing reasonable and probable grounds for the issuing Justice to believe the accused were storing a firearm at their residence. There was nothing in the conversation to suggest that 'Tracey' was a person and, in fact, was referred to as an 'it'. One of the accused referred to people having been 'patted down', which supported a reasonable inference that it was not a missing person that had the parties so upset. And it was reasonable, from the level of concern expressed and the guarded references in the calls, for the Justice to be satisfied that what was discussed was a firearm that had been stored at the residence. The fact the accused had no criminal record was irrelevant as even the home of innocent third party custodians can be entered with a valid search warrant. Although the ITO did not substantiate the characterization of the son as a drug dealer, those references could be excised without damaging its ability to support reasonable inferences about the presence of a firearm at the residence. There was no basis to suggest the police were required to undertake any further investigation into the meaning and significance of the intercepts before seeking a search warrant.