February 21, 2013 - 6:34 PM
By Charlotte Helston
Two Falkland residents who admitted to running a huge marijuana grow-op walked out of Vernon Supreme Court with a free pass today after a warrant was tossed out of court.
The evidence—5,000 plants—was pretty clear after RCMP searched the home of Margaret Dowler and Allan Kitkowski twice before charging them with production of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking. But it was how they got the evidence that Justice Allen Betton was concerned with. He said the officer who applied for the warrant was selective with the evidence she gave to get it. He found it lacked some important details and said it should never have been granted.
So ended a three-month investigation and all charges against Dowler and Kitkowski.
Since both warrants were based on the same facts provided by the officer, all evidence was thrown out. Dowler and Kitkowski as much as admitted their participation. Barton tried arguing the warrant could survive the errors but Betton wasn't persuaded.
It was an RCMP informant that tipped off police in the first place. This individual was referred to as Source A to protect identity. But Betton wasn't persuaded there, either. He said the source was motivated by financial gain—$2,700—and hadn't necessarily proven reliable. The source began talking to RCMP in 2010, and shortly after tipped them off to the general area of the Falkland grow—not a specific address. Police narrowed down the property based on the source's information, and B.C. Hydro records revealed larger than average electricity consumption. Betton cited a study which said the average home in B.C. uses 3,100 kilowatt hours for every 60-day period. This place was lighting up 18,000 kwh.
Dowler and Kitkowski emerged from the court room in tears of relief.
Barton is considering appealing.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com or call (250) 309-5230.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013