R v Byfield, 2020 ONCA 515

Updated: 5 days ago

Facts:


The appellant was found guilty of possessing a narcotic (cocaine) for trafficking purposes. He was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 24 months. Barrie Police had acted on an anonymous tip that they had received one year prior, regarding an individual referred to as “Tristen” selling drugs at a residence. Upon arrival at the residence, the police witnessed the appellant and another individual coming out of the house and getting into a vehicle. They drove to a nearby plaza while the police followed them. At the plaza, a third individual emerged from a green car, and entered the appellant’s vehicle. After a minute, this individual got out and went back to his car. Believing that the appellant and the individual with him had just sold drugs, the police stopped the appellant’s vehicle and arrested both individuals. Before the appellant was taken to the police station, a dispatched police officer conducted a pat down search. Upon rearrangement of his clothing, the officer found a bag of cocaine weighing 184 grams on the appellant. The appellant alleges that the police did not have sufficient grounds to arrest him, and even if they did, the strip search was unlawful.


Issue(s):


Did the motion judge err in his analysis and findings that the appellant’s s. 8 and s. 9 Charter rights were not infringed?


Reasoning:

In his analysis, the motion judge applied the test set out in R. v. Debot, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1140 to determine whether the police had reasonable grounds to arrest the appellant based on the tip they had received. Contrary to what the appellant stated, the source of the confidential tip was corroborated, and it was found to be credible and compelling. In addition, prior to the arrest, the police had witnessed an event that they had reason to believe was a transaction involving drugs. Thus, this Court agrees with the conclusion that they did have grounds to arrest the appellant, and his s. 9 Charter rights were not violated.

In regard to the appellant’s s. 8 Charter right, this Court finds that, although the police officer was mistaken in his belief that the rearrangement of clothing does not constitute a strip search (as it does), the search was still reasonable and lawful. The motion judge’s analysis contained 15 reasons supporting this conclusion, including but not limited to the following: the safety and health of the appellant was ensured throughout, the gender of the appellant and the officer were the same, the appellant’s genitals were never exposed, the search was not conducted in public, and it was not humiliating or aggressive. Thus, this Court finds no legal errors in the analysis conducted by the motion judge and agrees with his conclusions.

Conclusion:


The conviction appeal was dismissed as no Charter violations were found.


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