RCMP can hold on to pills seized in mail, judge rules

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Packages of highly restricted pills seized in the mail can stay in the hands of police for now, a provincial court judge has ruled.

Judge Jim Walsh said that the pills — ephedrine — are considered key evidence in an RCMP investigation into Rob King.

“I’m satisfied that the seized material is necessary (for police to have),” Walsh said in handing down his decision at provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday morning.

King — owner of Heavyweights Training and Fitness Products Ltds. in the capital city — is suspected of illegally exporting the pills across the border to the United States.

Between April 2012 and November 2012, the RCMP seized 44 packages of ephedrine — a drug included in the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act that is used in weight-loss and is a key ingredient in crystal meth — from Canada Post.

King is also being investigated for money laundering and laundering proceeds of crime.

Investigators indicated they should know by August whether charges will be laid.

King wasn’t in the courtroom Tuesday. He was represented by his lawyer, Averill Baker.

During a hearing, held June 25, to argue the issue, Baker insisted the pills are King’s property and that investigators overstepped their boundaries by keeping them longer than they were permitted.

She called the entire investigation is “a fishing expedition” and blamed the Crown for prompting it.

She pointed out the RCMP had already obtained an extension of time to keep the seized pills, but it was improperly obtained.

Baker said not only was the application filed after the 90-day limit, the RCMP officer did not give King notice it was being done — a direct violation of the law.

It was revealed that the application was approved by two provincial court judges, including Chief Judge Mark Pike.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Brown had readily admitted the errors by police, but said they were not intentional. He said attempts were made to correct the mistake as soon as they were recognized. He said it was not an effort to delay the investigation.

The judge agreed, saying the mistakes were “an oversight” by police and the judges.

“The errors were not malicious,” Walsh said.

In balancing the interests of the accused and that of society, Walsh said it was “in the interest of justice” for police to hold on to the evidence in order for them to properly conduct the investigation.

Police can keep the packages until Aug. 9. If they need more time, they will have to file another application.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: RCMP

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