Nine hours into what had already been a busy shift, Penticton RCMP Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth was stunned when a suspected impaired driver showed up right in front of him at a local store.
The subsequent investigation turned up nearly 21 grams of crystal meth and now a conviction for possession for the purpose of trafficking against Grant Edward McEwen, 48, following a trial this week in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton.
Wrigglesworth testified that he pulled into the 24/7 Convenience Store around 4 a.m. on June 22, 2014, and watched a man stagger out of the shop and into the driver’s seat of a vehicle in the parking lot.
“I remember my thought was: Are you kidding me?” the officer said, adding he had just arrived at 24/7 in a fully marked RCMP SUV.
McEwen was “fidgety” and “appeared to be intoxicated, given his movements,” Wrigglesworth said, which prompted the Mountie to approach the vehicle. A 15-year-old girl was in the passenger seat.
Wrigglesworth said McEwen’s ride smelled of vegetative marijuana and McEwen admitted to having a joint in a cigarette package. A full search of the car then turned up two sandwich bags that contained 24 smaller bags of crystal meth with a total weight of 20.6 grams.
The drugs were on the floor on the driver’s side of the vehicle next to the centre console, the Mountie continued, and two cell phones containing text messages “consistent with drug trade” were found inside the centre console.
Under cross-examination, the officer admitted no fingerprints were found on the drug bags and that the 15-year-old girl could have placed the drugs on the floor while no one was looking.
McEwen testified that he had never seen the bags of meth, but admitted a set of keys found next to the drugs were his.
In her testimony, the girl claimed that while police were dealing with McEwen outside, she removed a bag of meth from her sock and threw it towards the vehicle’s centre console. However, she said it was just a single bag that contained only about 0.5 grams of meth.
Justice Gordon Weatherill rejected the evidence of both McEwen and the girl because it was inconsistent and had “no ring of truth.”
Weatherill also found that the text messages on McEwen’s phones “demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused was engaged in a dial-a-dope operation.”
An RCMP drug expert testified earlier in the trial that the packaging of meth into 24 small bags was consistent with street-level dealing, which typically sees buyers pay $10 for one-tenth of a gram known as a “point,” and estimated the value of the drugs at about $2,000.
McEwen is due back in court on April 13 to set a date for sentencing.
He was sentenced in May 2011 to three years in prison for a similar offence of possession for the purpose of trafficking. The judge at that time noted he had six prior convictions for drug offences.