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Charter rights questioned in gun seizures

FILE PHOTO - The cache of seized items on display at the Kamloops RCMP detachment, May 2014.
Image Credit: Infotel Multimedia/File Photo
January 29, 2016 - 9:30 AM

KAMLOOPS - Lawyers for two people facing trial on a host of weapons possession charges are arguing that police violated charter rights when they entered their home and other buildings.

In a hearing in Kamloops Supreme Court yesterday, Jan. 28, defence lawyers for Jason and Sarah Robertson scrutinized Kamloops RCMP officers involved in the search and seizure. The Robertsons were charged with multiple counts of possessing stolen property and unauthorized firearms in March 2014 after a search of two properties connected to them turned up numerous firearms and other weapons.

Lawyers Jeremy Jensen and Julian Van Der Walle asked pointed questions of Kamloops RCMP Const. Dale Baker who, among others, took part in the search of the Robertsons' homes in March 2014 and retrieved guns, telecommunication devices, boxes of ammunition, drugs, cash, and various electronics.

Nine of the guns RCMP seized were from a gun safe in the Sahali home’s garage.

Van Der Walle asked Baker why Kamloops RCMP did not run the serial numbers on all the seized guns, as Jason had a firearms license. He also asked if one officer said to "seize them all anyways because they’re going to get their licenses revoked."

“I don’t remember. I don’t recall that conversation,” Baker said. “It could have happened. There was a lot of conversations going on."

Baker noted there was no dedicated dispatcher to speak with investigators during a search, which hampered their ability to check serial numbers.

Van Der Walle then questioned Baker about arresting Sarah who came home with her children mid-way through the search. Baker said Sarah indicated she wanted to speak to a lawyer before answering questions, but said she seemed more concerned with her children than seeking a lawyer.

"From my understanding of your evidence, you’re taking the position that although she wanted to speak to a lawyer, she wanted to deal with her kids first,” Van Der Walle said. “Nowhere in your notebook does it indicate that she wanted to hold off talking to a lawyer while she dealt with her kids."

Van Der Walle suggested the concerns for right to counsel heightened after Baker asked Sarah questions before reading her rights to her.  He noted the officer asked about the combination to the safe in the house, the location of her husband Jason and asked her how she made a living.

“You didn’t exactly hold off on asking her questions while you were at the scene,” Van Der Walle said.

“I would agree with that,” Baker replied.

Jensen asked Baker why officials at Canadian Border Services were requested to ‘flag’ Jason and subsequently search him on a return trip from Mexico, a process he said would be inappropriate given the RCMP did not conduct the search.

“I told them we’re not requesting any searches, just asking for information. We said we wanted to know when he returns to Canada,” Baker said.

The date for when the trial will resume has not been set yet. A voir dire is a trial within a trial to determine admissibility of evidence.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2016

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