Marijuana search warrant mostly lawful

A judge ruled that the seizure of a digital camera was unlawful but tossed out all other arguements by Katherine Brown
A judge ruled that the seizure of a digital camera was unlawful but tossed out all other arguements by Katherine Brown's lawyer.
— image credit: The News/Files

A Maple Ridge woman accused of operating a marijuana grow operation will go to trial after a judge refused to toss out evidence she claimed RCMP obtained unlawfully.

Katherine Merle Brown was arrested in April 2010 after Ridge Meadows RCMP raided a property at 28496 Bell Avenue on the suspicion that power was being stolen via a Hydro bypass.

Investigation revealed that Brown was the registered owner of the property, as well as the B.C. Hydro subscriber.

Officers found 1,082 marijuana plants in the garage and an outbuilding.

A locked safe and an envelope containing $4,560 were also seized, as were coffee cans with a large number of $20 bills, a grow chart, and a book related to indoor cultivation of marijuana.

During the search, police also found a digital camera in the living room. Believing the camera might contain photos of the people who lived on the growop property, police took the camera back to the detachment to print the photos of a man and woman taken inside the house.

Brown was taken into custody as she returned home. She was eventually charged with producing and possessing marijuana, in an amount exceeding three kilograms, for the purpose of trafficking.

Her lawyer, Neil Cobb, filed several applications to exclude evidence from trial.

Cobb argued that the search of her home was illegal as the warrant was obtained to determine who was stealing electricity.

He also claimed the information used to obtain the search warrant should have specified where the Hydro meter was and where it was going.

Defence argued the “information to obtain” should not have resulted in the search warrant being issued for the “outbuildings,” on the basis that there was no evidence linking the outbuildings to the theft of electricity, and only mentioned one outbuilding.

Cobb also claimed Brown’s Charter rights were violated because police “arbitrarily” stopped her in her SUV and arrested her.

He also claimed that her Charter rights were violated for a second time as police delayed to inform her about her rights to counsel.

In a ruling Thursday, Mr. Justice Robert Jenkins disagreed with Brown’s lawyer on most points.

The only evidence Justice Jenkins eventually excluded was the warrantless search of the digital camera.

A trial for Brown is scheduled to take place in May.

• Read the judgement online.

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