B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack

Drug charges stayed in case ‘burdened’ with difficulties

Arsheep Dhaliwal of Abbotsford began trial last July

An Abbotsford man who was on trial for drug possession has had his charges stayed after a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that evidence in the case was not presented in a timely or accurate manner.

Arshdeep Dhaliwal began his trial last summer on two charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking – one charge for heroin, the other for cocaine – from Feb. 4, 2015.

The trial began July 25, 2017, continued on July 28 and did not resume again until Dec. 4 and 5.

The Crown’s case included evidence of police surveillance of two properties in Abbotsford, including an apartment building on Holland Avenue.

In a written ruling, Justice George Macintosh said the pretrial disclosure about that property was “extremely limited,” stating only that Dhaliwal was seen entering a unit in the building.

In the first week of the trial, Crown counsel told the court that the manager of the apartment building had given police a key job, allowing them to enter the building and place a non-recording camera under the door of a common room to observe the hall adjacent to that unit.

Macintosh said that no particulars about this situation were given during the trial dates in July, including when the surveillance occurred, who conducted it, and when and how often Dhaliwal was seen there.

When the trial resumed in December, Crown counsel indicated that he had spoken with an APD officer who said that police had not had specific permission to place the camera in the Holland Avenue building for their investigation into Dhaliwal.

“Instead, the police had a ‘history’ with that building manager, whereby he had given the police a key fob, and perhaps a key, in an earlier investigation, and the police were proceeding on the basis they had open-ended and limitless access to the building for any police work from that time forward,” Macintosh wrote.

Other new information presented at the trial in December included that there were security cameras in the building. Police had accessed those in one or two other investigations, and may have done so in their investigation into Dhaliwal.

But Crown said he had been unable to receive a clear answer on that matter.

Macintosh referred to these discrepancies as “difficulties which appear to have burdened the case from the beginning.”

He said he believed that the Crown had been candid with the court in relaying information as he received it from police.

“Regrettably, it does not appear that he has received from the police all the information he should have received when he should have received it,” the judge stated.

Macintosh said the problems in the case prevented Dhaliwal from being able to properly defend himself, and he ruled that the charges should be stayed.

“An accused need to know the whole of the case against him before the lawyer starts the first cross-examination, not halfway through a trial,” he wrote, adding that this was one of the “clearest of cases” that necessitated a stay.

The judge’s ruling was made Dec. 6 in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack but was not posted online until this week.