After being acquitted, a Vernon man accused of supplying drugs to street level dealers ordered back to court | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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After being acquitted, a Vernon man accused of supplying drugs to street level dealers ordered back to court

August 23, 2016 - 11:45 AM

VERNON - A drug trafficking case thrown out last year in Vernon has been resurrected.

The Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for Christopher Brant Loewen, who was charged with possession of cocaine, heroin and marijuana following an undercover police operation into the street level drug trade in 2012. Those charges were dismissed in 2015 when the judge ruled a search warrant for Loewen’s car and residence was wrongly issued.

In applying for the warrant, investigators relied on information from two unnamed police informants as well as surveillance of the residence that showed people coming and going for short visits. Police alleged at least some of the people were drug runners coming to the residence to resupply with cocaine. The runners would then sell the drugs via a dial-a-dope operation, officers alleged.

The warrant ultimately led to the seizure of drugs, cash and other evidence.

At the trial in January 2015, the judge tossed out the warrant, calling the vast majority of the information “nothing more than bald assertions with no way in which the authorizing justice could assess their reliability.” Without the evidence obtained from the search warrant, the case against Loewen evaporated.

In the appeal, however, Chief Justice Robert Bauman said the judge failed to take into account detailed and compelling evidence with regard to the warrant.

“A search warrant is an investigative tool. Its justification rests on reasonable grounds, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Bauman said, adding the trial judge failed to assess the material in light of the totality of the circumstances.

Bauman said the information set out sufficient grounds for the warrant and granted the Crown’s appeal. A new trial has been ordered.

The charges against Loewen are allegations only and have not been proven in court.

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