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CRIMINAL CODE OFFENCES - Offences against person and reputation - Motor vehicles - Flight from police

Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 8:26 AM  

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Appeal by the accused, Plourde, from convictions for flight from police and possession of methamphetamine for the purpose of trafficking. Police sought the arrest of the accused pursuant to a parole violation warrant. An unmarked police vehicle blocked in the accused's vehicle. He attempted to flee the scene and was apprehended. Upon executing the arrest, police seized 35 grams of methamphetamine. At trial, a police witness was qualified as an expert. He testified that the amount of methamphetamine seized was consistent with trafficking, and was inconsistent with personal consumption. The trial judge accepted the expert evidence and convicted the accused of the drug charge. The trial judge also found that the accused knew the vehicle that blocked him contained police and he therefore possessed the requisite intent for the flight offence. The accused appealed. The Crown conceded the flight conviction could not be sustained due to impermissible reliance on a post-arrest utterance by the accused as evidence of his intent while driving.

HELD: Appeal allowed in part. The accused's statement upon arrest, "it was a good run, you got me," was equally attributable to the immediate police chase as it was to his time at large following his parole violation. The conviction for flight from police was accordingly set aside. In convicting the accused of the drug offence, the trial judge did not improperly rely upon the expert evidence. The fact that it was the witness's first time qualified as an expert did not affect the reliability of his evidence. There was no improper reversal of the burden of proof, as this was not a case in which an accused had testified that the drugs were for his own personal use. No reviewable error arose in connection with the drug conviction.

R. v. Plourde, [2017] A.J. No. 1167, Alberta Court of Appeal, P.T. Costigan, J. Watson and F.F. Slatter JJ.A., November 7, 2017. Digest No. TLD-November202017011