North

Man fails to convince N.W.T. judge to drop key evidence in drug trial

An Edmonton man has failed to convince an N.W.T. Supreme Court judge that drugs, cash, and an assault rifle that police found in his car should not be allowed as evidence in his trial.

Edmonton man argues police violated his rights by detaining him and searching his car

N.W.T. Supreme Court Justice Shannon Smallwood ruled against the accused, saying evidence can be admitted despite police breaches. (Walter Strong/CBC)

An Edmonton man has failed to convince an N.W.T. Supreme Court judge that drugs, cash, and an assault rifle police found in his car should not be allowed as evidence in his trial.

Cassiuis Zane Paradis is facing a dozen drug trafficking and firearm-related charges. He's been in jail since Oct. 20, when police in Fort Providence, N.W.T., searched his vehicle and then arrested him.

A 15-year-old passenger in the rented vehicle was also arrested and charged.

Police respond to complaint

Paradis's lawyer argued that police violated his client's constitutional rights by detaining him and searching the blue Volkswagen he was driving. RCMP had stopped the car after receiving a complaint that three men were driving around the community in a blue Volkswagen with Alberta plates, selling cocaine.

According to an agreed statement of facts in the case, officers found 326 small packages of cocaine containing a total of 74 grams, plus two larger pieces each weighing 28 grams. They also found more than $4,000 in cash and an assault rifle loaded with 40 bullets, as well as extra ammunition.

Police later learned the gun had a spring in it that had to be removed to make it operable.

According to a transcript of the judge's Feb. 28 decision on the application to have that evidence tossed out, Paradis's lawyer argued that the officers who stopped the car had no idea who made the complaint about drug dealing, what it was based on, and had made no attempt to determine if it was valid.

Breach not serious enough to exclude evidence

Justice Shannon Smallwood found that the officers did not have enough evidence to justify stopping the vehicle to investigate the complaint. Smallwood said because the stop was unlawful, so was the detention of Paradis.

The judge also said the officers who stopped Paradis should have immediately told him they were conducting a drug investigation and that he had a right to talk to a lawyer.

But Smallwood concluded that the breaches were "significant, but … not at the most serious end of the scale."

In deciding to allow the drugs, cash and rifle to be used as evidence in the case, she said, "Admission of the evidence would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Exclusion of this evidence, in my view, would risk bringing the administration of justice into disrepute."

Paradis remains in custody. He is due in court next on May 9.

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