Coun. Donnie Snook search warrant sealed from public
Search warrants are normally public once they are acted on by police
The court warrant issued to police to search Saint John Coun. Donnie Snook's home last week in connection with the eight child exploitation charges is sealed from the public.
A judge imposed a sealing order on the warrant, executed at Snook's Martha Avenue home on Jan. 9 by members of the RCMP's Internet Child Exploitation Unit.
It's not uncommon for a search warrant to be sealed so that a suspect or the subject of the search warrant isn’t tipped off to leave town or hide whatever evidence police are looking for.
But in 1982, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that once a search has been executed and a return has been filed with the court, detailing the evidence has been seized, the documents should then become public.
Police seized computer equipment and child sexual abuse images during the search of Snook's bungalow on the city's east side, RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah has said.
As of Monday, no return had been filed by police and the search warrant remained sealed, provincial court officials confirmed. It's unclear if, or when, the warrant will be made public.
This is not the first time that a search warrant in a high-profile investigation in Saint John has been sealed.
CBC News and the Telegraph-Journal are fighting to have documents related to the July 2011 murder of prominent businessman Richard Oland released.
The media outlets have applied to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a judicial review of provincial court Chief Judge R. Leslie Jackson’s decision regarding the Oland search warrants.
The matter is scheduled to be heard in mid-February.
More charges are possible
Snook, 40, is charged with three counts of touching a child for a sexual purpose, one count of making child pornography, two counts of distributing child pornography, and two counts of possession.
The investigation continues and more charges are possible, RCMP have said.
No other details have been released.
Snook, a second-term city councillor, and now-suspended director of the Saint John Inner City Youth Ministry, has not yet entered any pleas.
He remains in custody at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre after his bail hearing on Monday was adjourned at his lawyer's request.
Dennis Boyle, Snook's lawyer, told the court he needed more time to review the Crown's material.
The bail hearing has been rescheduled to Jan. 21 at 9:30 a.m.
The charges against Snook include three counts of touching a child for a sexual purpose between December 2006 and January 2013.
Those three counts all involve the same alleged victim, a child under the age of 16 from the Saint John area, RCMP have said.
The other charges include:
- One count of making child pornography between March 2011 and January 2013
- Two counts of possession of child pornography during the same period
- Two counts of distribution of child pornography between March 2011 and December 2012
The investigation, which began in 2011, has involved the New Brunswick RCMP's Internet Child Exploitation Unit, District 3 RCMP, New Brunswick RCMP Tech Crime Unit, the Saint John Police Force and the Toronto Police Service.