Errors by RCMP, judges a hard pill to swallow for defence

Rob King’s lawyer wants pills seized in the mail returned; Crown says they’re needed for the investigation

Rosie Mullaley
Published on June 26, 2013
Defence lawyer Averill Baker and Crown prosecutor Andrew Brown were in provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday to argue a Crown-filed application seeking an extension of time for police to keep pills seized from the mail. The pills were sent by Rob King and destined for the United States. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

Mistakes made by the RCMP and provincial court judges were revealed in court Tuesday as lawyers argued who should have 44 packages of highly restricted pills that were intercepted in the mail.

The Crown says the pills — ephedrine — are considered important evidence in an RCMP investigation into Rob King and should stay in the hands of police.

The defence insists the pills are King’s property and that investigators overstepped their boundaries by keeping them longer than they were permitted.

Judge Jim Walsh spent the morning hearing arguments in the case. He opted to reserve his ruling until July 9.

The hearing was to argue the merits of an application filed by the Crown, which is seeking an extension to keep the pills beyond the 90-day limit of the detention order without laying charges.

King — owner of Heavyweights Training Centre and Supplements — is being investigated for illegally exporting the pills outside the country.

Between April 2012 and November 2012, the RCMP seized 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 the mail. The packages were destined for the United States.

The 39-year-old wasn’t in the courtroom. He was represented by his lawyer, Averill Baker.

Baker said the entire investigation is “a fishing expedition.”

She pointed out the RCMP had already obtained an extention 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.

“To obtain an extension, the application must be filed during the currency of the (first) order,” Baker said. “Otherwise, the order is nullified.”

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

“Somehow, incredibly, both the police and the judge, as well as the Crown, did not give notice,” she said.

“My client didn’t have one scrap of notice.

“The rules have to be followed. They really have no excuse for this.”

She said it’s not right of the Crown to ask for an extension and said her client’s rights are being violated.

“This is not a case of terrorism involving guns or weapons,” she said. “This is a Canadian citizen who has no record. Their investigation has uncovered nothing.

“I beg of you not to give the Crown what it wants. It’s going to create a very dangerous situation (in other cases). He’s asking you to assume a crime has been committed.”

One of two undercover RCMP officers who testified said they will know by August whether or not criminal charges, including laundering proceeds of crime, will be laid against King.

Prosecutor Andrew Brown admitted that, while mistakes were made in obtaining extensions, by the approval of “faulty applications,” there was no malice.

He said a judge can rule that an extension is reasonably required — for the purpose of the investigation or preliminary inquiry.

He said there’s been “an apparent offence”committed and police need the pills, as “this is a live investigation.”

Brown went on to say that it would be “in the interest of the administration of justice to make the (extension) order.”

“It’s about balancing, not just Mr. King’s interests,” Brown said.

 “The desire for return of the items must be weighed against the police’s right to conduct a proper investigation.”

And in this situation, he said, the police’s interest far outweigh King’s interests.

If there are no charges laid, Brown said, the pills can eventually be returned to King.

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