Mar 31, 2017

Summary of R v Carter

R v Carter, 2016 SKQB 403 (CanLII)
Criminal Law – Controlled Drugs and Substances – Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking – Cocaine
Criminal Law – Controlled Drugs and Substances – Possession – Constructive or Actual

The accused was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking when one kilogram (brick) of cocaine was found in her vehicle. A confidential informant gave police information that the accused and another were to travel from Regina to Vancouver to pick up cocaine. The accused was under surveillance for the entire trip. The accused and another travelled in the accused’s car to British Columbia in 18 hours and proceeded directly to a residence. They were at the residence for seven hours when they drove back to Regina in the accused’s vehicle, again with no extended stops. Near Regina, the passenger got out of the accused’s vehicle and into a truck. The police stopped the accused’s vehicle and the truck. A search of the accused incident to arrest revealed a blue overnight bag behind the front seats, under the folded-down back seats, but in plain view. A lunch bag inside the overnight bag contained the brick of cocaine and baggies of marijuana. The searching officer indicated that the vehicle had a strong odour of marihuana. The passenger was found to be in possession of a considerable quantity of cash and three cell phones. The accused testified that she had mentioned to an acquaintance that she was going to British Columbia to look for work. The acquaintance asked if the passenger could go with her to visit friends in Vancouver. The accused said that the passenger brought the blue overnight bag with her. The accused said that they went to the passenger’s friend’s house in British Columbia and that she went to sleep. When she woke up, the accused said she walked into the living room of the house and the passenger was sitting there with a man. The accused said that she agreed to return to Regina when the passenger indicated her desire to do so. The accused testified that it was not unusual for her not to make advance plans regarding her job search in British Columbia, nor was it unusual to take a stranger on the trip. Whether the accused was in possession of the cocaine was at issue.
HELD: The court concluded that the accused was not completely lacking knowledge of the presence of cocaine. The accused did not provide any evidence of plans for the trip nor did she take any clothes or other supplies that would reasonably be expected for a trip lasting more than two or three days. She said that she felt some responsibility for the passenger so agreed to just head back to Regina when the passenger indicated that she wanted to. The court said that, at the very least, one would expect the accused to question the passenger about what was going on, etc. The court concluded that the evidence pointed to a short trip to Vancouver for a specific purpose. The court was not left with a reasonable doubt after considering the accused’s evidence. The court then turned to the evidence as a whole and found that the bag was in plain sight and within the knowledge of the accused. The accused was found guilty.