Man caught with 800 fentanyl pills to get new trial after Appeal Court rules addict isn't expert witness
Jason Claude Tremblay was originally acquitted of trafficking and found guilty of simple possession
The provincial Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for a southern Alberta man accused of trafficking the deadly opioid fentanyl.
Jason Claude Tremblay was charged in Medicine Hat in 2014 with possession for the purposes of trafficking after police seized more than 800 fentanyl pills.
Provincial court Judge Darwin Greaves acquitted Tremblay of trafficking and found him guilty of simple possession, sentencing him to one year in jail.
The Crown had sought a four-year jail term, citing the large amount of fentanyl seized.
A panel of three Appeal Court justices says the judge made an error in law when he qualified a drug addict to testify as an expert witness in the case.
The panel says the trial judge relied heavily on this evidence to determine there was reasonable doubt.
"The acquittal must be set aside and a new trial ordered," the justices said in a written ruling released Monday.
Alberta Health statistics show 343 people died from fentanyl-related overdoses last year in the province, up from 257 in 2015 and 117 the year before that.
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