Judge slams Peel police over cavalier attitude towards search powers

Jul 9, 2015 By Matthew Friedberg
A Brampton judge rebuked a senior Peel Regional Police sergeant and his fellow officers for “self-serving and less than credible” evidence in court and “lackadaisical attitudes” towards police search powers in a recent ruling on a drug possession case.

Ontario Court Justice Louise Botham dismissed charges of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking against brothers Eduardo and Jesus Aguilar-Mellado and Jesus’ girlfriend, Maria Martinez, finding that the officers displayed a “cavalier” attitude toward their Charter rights.

She said the three individuals were subjected to an unlawful detention and search of their car after they parked it at a police detachment last year. Officers also violated Eduardo and Maria’s right to a lawyer, Botham found.

The case raises the question of what — if anything — happens within a police force when a judge has found that police officers infringed on a person’s rights and then presented the court with questionable testimony.

Police spokesman Staff Sgt. Dan Richardson declined to comment.

Speaking generally, he said “the process as it stands right now is that the Crown contacts Peel police if something is required.” When asked what action Peel police then takes, Richardson said: “It depends on the situation. Every situation is different.”

A spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, the federal agency that prosecutes drug crimes, said “the PPSC, as a matter of practice, does not confirm or deny whether it has referred a matter to the police.”

“I think what defence lawyers find frustrating is when they see judges make rulings like this and then sometimes don't see any kind of follow up by the police or accountability,” said lawyer Matthew Friedberg, whose firm represented Eduardo Aguilar-Mellado. “I hope the Peel police have already been examining this case and deciding what remedial steps it feels is appropriate.”

Alexander Hope, who represented Martinez, said “Justice Botham got it right.” Jesus Aguilar-Mellado’s lawyer, Juan Lopez, did not return a request for comment.

All details in this story are from Botham’s decision.


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