B.C. judge tosses ecstasy case for rights violations
'The officers in charge just did not seem to care,' writes judge
The Richmond trial of five men accused of running a multi-million dollar ecstasy lab has been thrown out of court because of what a provincial court judge says were repeated Charter of Rights violations.
In January 2007, Mounties uncovered nearly 100 kilograms of ecstasy and nine pill presses in two Richmond homes following a year-long investigation.
Tin Lik Ho, Qing Hou, Shao Wei Huang, Yi Feng Kevin Li and Kai Lai Kyle Zhou were all charged with producing ecstasy and possessing ecstasy for the purpose of trafficking.
But in a 30-page provincial court judgment, Judge Paul Meyers issued a scathing indictment of the RCMP's handling of the case.
"The police officers who were in charge of this investigation, from start to finish, violated so many Charter rights of the accused persons, that one might have thought that the investigation took place before the Charter of Rights had been enacted," Meyers wrote.
He cited police for not bothering to arrange for interpreters to explain to the accused the reasons for their arrest or their rights, despite knowing they probably would not speak or understand English very well.
Meyers blasts police for not showing the accused the warrants to two houses and failing to file a report to the Richmond court registry within seven days of the warrant's execution as required by law.
In an attempt to clean the accused of potentially volatile substances, Meyers said, police hosed down the half-naked suspects in the middle of winter while in view of their neighbours.
"All cumulatively, in my view, amount to an unavoidable conclusion that the officers in charge of this case were totally unconcerned with what Charter rights these co-accuseds were guaranteed by virtue of Canadian law," Meyers said. "The officers in charge just did not seem to care."
Meyers accused the officers in charge of the investigation of operating "in bad faith" every step of the way.
"In this case, I have decided that Charter rights were violated for each and every accused," Meyers wrote.
While acknowledging there is a strong and vested interest in prosecuting those accused of distributing illegal substances, "society also has a very strong and vested interest in making sure that the police do not run roughshod over the cherished rights that we have proudly enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms Act," said Meyers.
"I have concluded that, in the long term, the repute of the administration of justice would be adversely affected by admitting into evidence against any of the accused anything that was seized by the police."
Meyers dismissed as evidence everything the police seized during their January 2007 raid.