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POWERS OF SEARCH AND SEIZURE - Search warrants - Informer’s tip

Monday, March 08, 2021 @ 9:02 AM  


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Appeal by Perkins from his conviction on two counts of possession of cocaine and fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking, six counts of illegal possession of firearms and two counts of possession of prohibited devices. The firearms were discovered after the execution of search warrants on a storage locker, the keys to which were in the appellant’s vehicle, which was the subject of a tracking warrant and was also the subject of a search warrant. The keys also opened a safe inside the storage locker, which contained cocaine, and a safe located in a barn, where additional firearms and drugs were found. The appellant’s fingerprints were found inside the safe. Cocaine and fentanyl were found in an envelope delivered by the appellant to a postal outlet. Similar packaging was found in the barn. Surveillance of the appellant showed him at the storage locker and the barn. Surveillance of the appellant’s vehicle revealed short meetings in parking lots consistent with drug transactions. The trial judge initially found there was insufficient information in the information to obtain (ITO) to support the production order and warrants. Based on a supplemented ITO, which partially unredacted information from a source that had been initially redacted, the trial judge upheld the production order, general warrant and other search warrants as valid. The unredacted information explained that the source had identified the appellant’s photo, provided a description of the appellant and had picked up cocaine directly from the appellant. The additional information did not provide the source’s name.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The trial judge did not reverse his earlier rulings. He followed the correct “Garofoli” procedure in considering the unredacted information, applied the correct legal test and properly appreciated all of the evidence in upholding the production order and warrants as valid. The source’s evidence could have been problematic if it was the only evidence relied on in obtaining the warrant but there was also an abundance of surveillance evidence and other informant evidence. The fact the source could visually identify the appellant was credible. His evidence that he picked up cocaine directly from the person identified as the appellant was highly significant. The trial judge’s weighing of the source’s evidence was entirely reasonable and did not provide a basis for appellate interference. It was within the trial judge’s purview to give weight to the source’s newly unredacted evidence and to conclude that it, together with the whole of the evidence set out in the ITO, was sufficient to support the conclusion there were reasonable grounds to believe the appellant had committed the offences of drug trafficking or possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

R. v. Perkins, [2021] B.C.J. No. 32, British Columbia Court of Appeal, L.A. Fenlon, S.A. Griffin and P.G. Voith JJ.A., January 12, 2021. Digest No. TLD-March82021002