New trial was ordered

Ontario criminal | Criminal Law

Narcotic and drug control


New trial was ordered

Evidence. Accused drove transport truck loaded with raspberries from California to Ontario. When Canada Border Services Agency officers opened trailer of accused’s truck at border crossing, they saw two suitcases on top of skids of raspberries, which contained 39 kilograms of cocaine. Accused was charged with importing and possessing cocaine for purpose of trafficking. Accused denied seeing luggage on load in truck. Crown led evidence that accused had considerably under-reported length of his stop in California, and evidence suggesting it was unlikely that luggage was loaded on truck at same time as berries. Accused was acquitted and Crown appealed. Appeal allowed. Trial judge erred by making findings of fact based on speculation, and relied on those findings to conclude that accused was not “only” person who would be in position to retrieve drugs. Significance of that conclusion to trial judge’s ultimate determination was readily apparent when considered in context of defence that accused was “blind courier”. Trial judge also erred by failing to consider all of evidence in relation to ultimate issue of guilt by using piecemeal approach, effectively requiring Crown to prove each individual piece of evidence beyond reasonable doubt. Failure to consider evidence as whole is error of law warranting appellate intervention. Trial judge’s legal errors clearly affected his verdict of acquittal. New trial ordered.
R. v. Knezevic (2016), 2016 CarswellOnt 18886, 2016 ONCA 914, John Laskin J.A., E.E. Gillese J.A., and David Watt J.A. (Ont. C.A.).

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