Criminal Law – Possession – Controlled Substance – Trafficking – Circumstantial Evidence – Criminal Enterprise
The accused was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime in excess of $5000. Police surveilled and took down a vehicle which had been rented by the accused. There were house keys on the car key chain for a residence rented by the accused. The police executed a search warrant at the residence and seized cocaine and methamphetamine, various drug paraphernalia, other indicators of trafficking and $32,000 in cash. Some of the seized articles were stored in safes at the residence. The police also searched a storage locker and seized scorebooks and various receipts. One of the receipts was for another vehicle rented by the accused. The accused was not present when the police took down the vehicle, nor was he present at the residence or storage locker. The accused testified that he moved to Saskatchewan from B.C. for work, rented multiple vehicles and entered a year-long lease, but began thinking about returning to B.C. as early as nine days after entering the lease and did so within approximately five weeks of entering the lease. He testified that upon returning to B.C., he turned the rented vehicle and residence over to P. but continued to pay the lease on the residence. At issue was whether the accused was in possession of the cocaine, methamphetamine and cash seized by the police.
HELD: The court found the accused guilty on all counts. There was no direct evidence that the accused possessed the controlled substances or the cash. However, his testimony explaining his actions was not plausible. The court rejected his explanations for renting the residence and vehicle and his reasons for turning both over to P. and for returning to British Columbia. His departure to B.C. within weeks of entering a long-term lease suggest he never intended to live at the residence long term and leased it for other purposes. The evidence was clear that P. and others were jointly engaged in a commercial dial-a-dope enterprise out of the residence and that the accused was close enough to P. to trust him with the leased residence and vehicle. The evidence disclosed that the accused knew the others involved in the operation. His rental of different vehicles, some of them at the same time, was consistent with a dial-a-dope operation. The only logical inference from the circumstantial evidence was that the accused knew of the drugs and cash, consented to the drugs and cash being kept at the residence in his absence and maintained some measure of control over them.