Judge to decide what evidence will be used against Kamloops couple after charter rights breached - InfoNews

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Judge to decide what evidence will be used against Kamloops couple after charter rights breached

Guns and cash were some of the items seized by RCMP.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
November 18, 2016 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - It's been more than two years since Kamloops RCMP raided the home of Sarah and Jason Robertson, now a Supreme Court judge will decide what evidence can be used against them.

Defence lawyers for the couple have argued in a hearing which wrapped up in Kamloops Supreme Court today, Nov. 18, that both Sarah and Jason had their Charter rights breached when RCMP entered their home.

The couple is facing charges including possession of stolen property and careless storage of a firearm.

The breaches came to light when defence lawyers Jeremy Jensen and Julian Van Der Walle obtained footage from the couple's high-end surveillance system in their home. Cameras are placed at different areas throughout their Sahali residence and each camera records audio.

Supreme Court Judge Jeanne Watchuk said part of the video shown at a preliminary inquiry showed RCMP officers breaching the "knock and announce rule." When police attend a home with a search warrant, they're expected to wait a reasonable amount of time after knocking and announcing their presence before forcefully entering.

In this case, Watchuk says, officers waited less than 30 seconds from the first knock before using a battering ram to open the door. 

Jensen argues although police were fairly confident no one was inside the home, they could have been wrong. He says if someone was inside the home, the safety of the occupants and the officers could have been compromised.

Watchuk told the court yesterday, Nov. 17, that police had a plan in place before approaching the home. They were to wait a short time after knocking and announcing their presence before using force to enter since they knew firearms were likely inside the home.

But Watchuk ruled officers didn't wait long enough, therefore breaching the couple's rights. She also decided the RCMP overseized items within the home such as suitcases, a milk crate and a fishing rod which had no evidentiary importance. 

"The RCMP unreasonably diverged from the knock and announce rule," Watchuk said.

Watchuk says Sarah's rights were also breached when she was arrested that evening in May. In the surveillance video shown in court today, Sarah can be heard saying shortly after her arrest that she wanted to speak to a lawyer.

Defence lawyers argued that after an accused requests legal counsel, officers have a duty to hold off on pressing the suspect for information. In this case, they didn't hold off and can be heard asking Sarah the whereabouts of her husband after requesting to speak with a lawyer.

Police began surveilling the Robertsons in early 2014, after they learned Jason may be involved in drug trafficking. During the raid, officers seized 40 firearms, marijuana, cocaine and $50,000.

Jason originally faced 36 charges, but those have now been narrowed down to 10. Sarah now faces eight charges.

Watchuk is expected to decide which evidence will be admissable for trial at the beginning of January, two weeks before their scheduled trial.


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