Dangerous driving, obstructing a peace officer, possessing a loaded restricted firearm, possessing cocaine, and breaching conditions

Our client was bound by a probation order, two firearms prohibition orders, and bail conditions from Toronto. One day, he was in a car with two or three other men in Ottawa when the car ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle. According to an off-duty police officer, our client climbed out of the driver’s seat holding a brown backpack. One or two other occupants of the vehicle fled the scene, but our client and one other occupant remained. When on-duty officers eventually arrived, they arrested our client for obstructing their investigation, mainly because he did not give them any identification when they asked him. They searched the backpack incident to arrest and found a loaded handgun. They later searched his coat and found a bag of cocaine.

 

Our client was charged with dangerous driving, obstructing a peace officer, seven firearms-related offences, six breaches of his court conditions, and possessing cocaine.

 

Defence counsel filed applications to admit hearsay evidence because one of the on-duty officers had told his colleagues at the scene that there had been no identification in the backpack and that our client had denied knowledge of the firearm, but had forgotten these facts by the time of trial. Defence counsel also filed an application to exclude the evidence under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the basis of a false arrest for obstructing a peace officer and unnecessary delays to our client’s right to counsel. Through cross-examination, defence counsel showed that there was conflicting evidence about who the driver was and that there was conflicting evidence about when our client may have retrieved the backpack from the car, raising the possibility that the bag belonged to someone else who had fled the scene. After the prosecution closed its case, it also became apparent that they did not conclusively prove that our client was the person who was at the scene. Defence counsel therefore brought a motion for a directed verdict of acquittal with the hearsay and Charter applications.

 

RESULT: All charges were dismissed by a directed verdict of acquittal.