Ontario Criminal

Charter of Rights

Suspicions about bail breaches did not convert investigation into ruse

Property manager of housing complex had reported general concerns about drug dealing and trespassing on premises to police. Four police officers attended complex. Officers claimed accused walked quickly toward house carrying partially-full liquor bottle, then rapidly knocked on door. Officers alleged that accused smelled of liquor, had bloodshot eyes and appeared very nervous. Officers asked accused if he lived there and if he had been drinking. Physical altercation ensued when officer asked accused about backpack he was carrying. Officers admitted to punching and kneeing accused to get him to stop resisting. Once accused was handcuffed, officer searched backpack and found semi-automatic handgun. Accused was charged with 11 counts, including four counts of assaulting police and five weapons offences. Accused applied for exclusion of evidence based on, inter alia, breach of s. 9 of Charter. Application dismissed. Predominant purpose for accused’s detention was Provincial Offences Act (Ont.) investigation into liquor and trespassing issues and not mere ruse or pretext for criminal investigation. Objective basis existed for investigation. Officers’ suspicions about possible bail breaches did not convert investigation into ruse. Grounds relied on by officers to detain accused were sufficient. Accused was not generally credible or reliable witness. Circumstances provided reasonable suspicion to believe accused may possibly have committed provincial offence. Officers had legitimate grounds to briefly detain accused and determine whether he was resident or trespasser who had been drinking in courtyard of complex. Detention not unduly long. Evidence established that accused pushed one officer in chest and kicked another in groin, then tried to close door on officers and continued to resist arrest. Officers had grounds to enter dwelling and arrest accused. Force used during arrest caused no significant injuries and was necessary and reasonable.

R. v. Darteh (Feb. 7, 2014, Ont. S.C.J., M.A. Code J., File No. 13-50000278-0000) 112 W.C.B. (2d) 325.

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