Supreme Court upholds earlier Felger ruling

Acquittal on pot trafficking set aside

Tim Felger

Tim Felger

Pot activist Tim Felger of Abbotsford must go through a new trial, as previously sought by the Crown, following a decision on Oct. 17 by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Felger had applied to Canada’s highest court last month in hopes of being able to argue that an earlier decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal should be overturned, but the application was dismissed.

In January of this year, the Court of Appeal agreed with the Crown that Felger’s 2012 acquittal on drug charges should be set aside and a new trial should be held.

Felger, who is seeking a council seat in the Nov. 15 municipal election, was acquitted in December 2012 of seven charges – six counts of trafficking in marijuana and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking – that were laid in 2009 in relation to his former Da Kine store on Essendene Avenue in Abbotsford.

Felger’s lawyer had argued that police had trespassed on Felger’s property by ignoring signs he had posted outside the store that stated “no police officers allowed in the store without a warrant.”

Felger also had his lawyer send a letter to the local police chief, indicating that no member of the Abbotsford Police Department was allowed onto the premises without a warrant.

During their investigation, undercover officers attended the store and allegedly purchased marijuana, which led to Felger’s arrest and charges.

The trial judge excluded this evidence, saying it constituted a search that breached Felger’s charter rights, and the charges were thrown out.

Crown appealed the acquittal, with three judges on the B.C. Court of Appeal panel in agreement that although the charter provides a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” the sign and the letter did not entitle Felger to those privacy rights.

The acquittal was overturned and a new trial was granted, which initially was scheduled for May 2015. It is not yet known if this trial date will stand or whether a new one will be selected.

Felger’s co-accused Natasha Healy, an employee at Da Kine who was also previously acquitted on three drug charges in the same case, also had that acquittal overturned on appeal by the Crown and will get a new trial.

Felger also went on trial for drug charges in Mission and had most of those charges thrown out in court in May 2013 because the judge in that case also ruled that his charter rights had been breached by police.

That matter is still before the courts, with a trial slated to continue on adapted charges.