Man acquitted on growop charges

Judge rules ‘no proof of occupancy’ in Maple Ridge 2010 bust.

A man who claimed he was just visiting when police raided a marijuana grow operation in Maple Ridge has been acquitted of drug trafficking charges.

Cong Quang Michael Nguyen was one of three men arrested by Ridge Meadows RCMP in September 2010 after officers executed a search warrant at 25035 Ferguson Avenue.

Police discovered a sophisticated growop, with three rooms inside.

Several loaded guns, including an AR-15 rifle, a nine mm handgun, as well as five machetes and a metal baseball bat were also seized.

As RCMP descended on the property, three men fled on foot, but were captured by officers after a short chase.

Nguyen, 28, was eventually charged with production of a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm, and possession of a 30-round magazine without a license.

Given the “obvious, recent and up-to-date occupancy” of the house, fresh food in the fridge, and a Louis Vuitton “man purse” with Nguyen’s ID in it, Crown counsel argued he had “both knowledge and control” over the grow operation.

In addition to the Louis Vuitton bag, police also found a restaurant rewards card that belong to Nguyen in the house, as well as empty cups from the same restaurant.

Crown also pointed to a Facebook page for Mike Tran that was open on a computer.

Nguyen’s lawyer argued that the evidence did not show that he had control of the growop and Madam Justice Miriam Maisonville agreed.

“There is no evidence that the accused had been there on any other day or how long the accused had been there present on that day or to what areas of the house that he visited on that day,” she said.

Justice Maisonville also noted there is no evidence that the clothing found inside the house matched the accused, no fingerprint evidence, no DNA evidence (although a number of toothbrushes were found) or no tenancy agreements linking to Nguyen nor mail to him at that address.

“I find that there is not proof of occupancy by the accused short of the man purse being on the futon,” she added.

“That is consistent with being a visitor as it is consistent with more.”

She acknowledge the circumstances were suspicious, as pointed out by Crown.

“However, while I find it is highly suspicious, it is not evidence that satisfies me beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said.


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