Nova Scotia

Drug charges stayed against 2 men in major marijuana bust

Two men caught up a major drug bust nearly four years ago have had all charges against them stayed, because it's taken too long to bring their cases to trial.

Almost 4-year delay is unreasonable 'no matter how you slice it,' says judge

Charges against former Olympic paddler Mihai Apostol have been stayed. (CBC)

Two men caught up in a major drug bust nearly four years ago have had all charges against them stayed.

A judge has ruled it's taken too long to bring their cases to trial.

Mihai Apostol and Kenneth Greer were among 28 men arrested in December 2012 as part of Operation H-Tort. Police also seized more than 21 kilograms of marijuana and stacks of cash worth more than $100,000.

Apostol was among the higher-profile people involved in this case because of his career as an Olympic paddler.

Too long, judge rules

Apostol and Greer were scheduled to go to trial this fall, beginning at the end of October.

But new case guidelines established this summer by the Supreme Court of Canada set an outer limit of 30 months for completing cases.

In a decision released Wednesday by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Justice Josh Arnold counted up 46.5 months to deal with this case, well outside the new limit. Most of the delay he attributed to the Crown and the issue of disclosing evidence.

"No matter how you slice it, this case comes up delay," the judge concluded in his decision.

Careers damaged

Arnold noted the charges hanging over Apostol's head hurt his paddling and work as a motivational speaker.

"While much of Apostol's complaints are those that would impact anyone charged with a criminal offence, the lengthy delay in this matter has prolonged and compounded all of the prejudice, especially his work-related restrictions," Arnold wrote.

Mental-health struggles

The judge noted the charges cost Greer his job as a restaurateur.

"He now struggles with depression and alcohol abuse," Arnold wrote.

"He has started a new business venture but has to deal with the ongoing stigma of the outstanding charges."

At the end of August, a different judge stayed charges for two other men caught in the same drug bust after finding their trials also had been unreasonably delayed.

About the Author

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca