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Crown’s circumstantial evidence was ‘razor thin,’ N.L. supreme court judge rules

Curtis Wasylow (right) with his lawyer, Bob Buckingham, minutes after he was declared not guilty of marijuana trafficking in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday.
Curtis Wasylow (right) with his lawyer, Bob Buckingham, minutes after he was declared not guilty of marijuana trafficking in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday. - Tara Bradbury

Man acquitted of drug dealing charges

Nothing personal, St. John’s, but Curtis Wasylow is getting out of here on the next available flight.

The 27-year-old smiled Tuesday as he admitted he loves the city, but going home to Vancouver was the only thing on his mind, having just been found not guilty of criminal charges he’d been facing for more than two years.

Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice Robert Stack acquitted Wasylow of trafficking marijuana and possessing it for the purpose of trafficking it, saying although Wasylow was arrested in a hotel room with a suspected drug dealer, a suitcase of weed and more than $4,000 cash, there was no proof he had anything to do with them.

Related story:
Judge rules evidence inadmissible in marijuana trafficking case

Wasylow was arrested and charged May 13, 2015, along with two other men: Kelly Poulin of B.C. and Matthew McGuire of Mount Pearl.

Poulin, 29, pleaded guilty to possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking, and the charge was transferred to B.C., where he received an 18-month jail sentence.

McGuire, 27, was acquitted last week after Stack ruled his rights had been breached by the police when they arrested him.

Members of the RNC/RCMP Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit had received a tip that Poulin was in town at a local hotel and was involved with drugs. Police found Poulin and Wasylow in the hotel restaurant, where the men were said to have been acting suspiciously, looking repeatedly at the exits and changing tables more than once.

McGuire was seen meeting the men and leaving with a large suitcase. Police followed him and searched his vehicle. The evidence against him was deemed inadmissible in court.

Poulin and Wasylow were arrested in a hotel room, where police found another suitcase containing 15 pounds of marijuana and a suitcase containing almost $4,000 in cash — both in the closet — more cash on the night stand, six cellphones, a knapsack with Wasylow’s passport and other items.

In bringing down his verdict, Stack noted the police had not had any information about Wasylow whatsoever, and there was no evidence he was in possession of the drugs.

“There was no evidence that he had any association with drug trafficking,” Stack said, noting Wasylow had told police three times he didn’t understand why he was being arrested. “Mr. Wasylow was not observed with suitcases, cash, scales, other drug paraphernalia, a rental car or anything else that might be indicative of him being a drug dealer.

“He was not discovered with a (hotel room) key, the receipt for the room was in Mr. Poulin’s name … and there was no other evidence connecting Mr. Wasylow to the room, such as clothing or personal supplies like a toothbrush. Without more, the presence of a knapsack is indicative of a visit, rather than a stay in the room.”

The most incriminating evidence against Wasylow, Stack said, was that he asked police upon his arrest, “How did you get onto us today?”

“It fails, however, to raise the Crown’s razor-thin circumstantial evidence to proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Stack concluded.

Wasylow breathed a sigh of relief when Stack declared him not guilty, and hugged his lawyer, Bob Buckingham.

 

Tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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