Drug-trafficking charges dropped due to court delays

Vernon Law Courts

VERNON - A Vernon man charged with selling cocaine to an undercover officer had his charges dropped due to unreasonable court delays by a B.C. Supreme Court justice.

David Steven Wear, charged with trafficking cocaine, first appeared in court in July of 2011. On March 20, Justice Frank Cole determined the lengthy trial delays violated his Charter right to a fair trial within a reasonable time period. After a roughly 18-month period of court rescheduling for an estimated two-and-a-half day trial, the trial date was changed seven times. The trial date was changed due, in part, to the availability of two RCMP constables. One of the constables allegedly purchased cocaine from Wear on an undercover sting - making her a key witness to the trial.

In December of 2012 when the Crown changed the trial date, Wear opposed the adjournment and said the prolonged dates "restricted his life."

Scheduling was another factor due to booked up court schedules; the trial was not deemed priority. This is the most common source of delay for courts, where both parties are prepared for court, but court time is not available, Cole said.

The general time frame between committal and trial, as stated in the reasons for judgment is between six to eight months.

To contact a reporter for this story, email gbrothen@infotelnews.ca, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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