A judge of the P.E.I. Supreme Court ordered the exclusion of several pieces of evidence in a recent drug trafficking case after ruling police violated the accused’s Charter of Rights at the time of his arrest.
Supreme Court Justice Wayne Cheverie issued the exclusion order in the case of Christopher Raymond O’Halloran.
That order of exclusion covers money from O’Halloran’s wallet, money from the console of the vehicle he was traveling in, several pills, his methadone, his travel documents and a cell phone.
The items were seized upon O’Halloran’s arrest in September of last year as part of an investigation in which he was not the primary target. He was subsequently charged with trafficking in Oxycodone and possession of Oxycodone for the purposes of trafficking.
Cheverie issued the exclusion order after finding that O’Halloran’s constitutional right not to be arbitrarily detained by police had been violated.
Given that conclusion Cheverie subsequently found that O’Halloran had been subject to unlawful search and seizure.
“Since his arrest was unlawful there can be no lawful search, incident to arrest,” Cheverie wrote in his decision.
He said a reasonable person, informed of the relevant circumstances and familiar with Charter values, would conclude that the admission of the evidence in this case would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Defence counsel Chris Montigny had argued that O’Halloran was arrested without a warrant and based on the facts he was arbitrarily detained in violation of his rights under section nine of the Charter of Rights.
Montigny then argued that the subsequent search of the accused was, therefore, unreasonable and in violation of his rights under section eight of the charter.
In opposing the request for exclusion of certain evidence Crown counsel Jonathan B. Greenan argued that the evidence seized by police on the date in question was essential to the prosecution. He said the exclusion of such relevant and reliable evidence would exact a heavy toll on the truth-seeking goal of the criminal trial process.
Cheverie said the police conduct in this case was serious, with subsequent significant impact on O’Halloran’s constitutional guarantees.
The case against O’Halloran has since been heard by the court and a decision is pending.