Accused gains access to informants’ notes

A Terrace drug trafficking case takes a turn in the defendant’s favour after an application to see the police informants’ notes was granted

A drug trafficking case has taken a turn in the defendant’s favour after an application to see the police informants’ notes was granted by the judge.

Mr. Justice Robert Punnett agreed that the notes used to obtain five search warrants for the residence of David Edwardsen and other locations in 2012 included information given to police by seven confidential informants that the accused had a right to see in order to put forth his defence.

The Crown has failed to provide a basis sufficient to show that the materials in question are clearly irrelevant,” said Mister Justice Punnett in his written judgment.

I conclude the Crown has a duty to review the materials for relevance and to disclose them to the defence except to the extent that they could explicitly or implicitly tend to reveal the identity of informants.

Beginning in August 2011, the RCMP conducted a 14-month investigation into the accused, which culminated in the execution of five search warrants on September 19, 2012,” read the written judgment.

The Crown alleges that the accused is the head of a group involved with trafficking cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana in the area of Terrace,” continued the judgment.

The search of the accused’s primary residence yielded approximately 1.5 kg of cocaine, 3.3 kg of marijuana, 32 g of psilocybin, 24 tabs of ecstasy, 46 firearms and $47,000 in cash.

The searches carried out pursuant to the other four warrants led to the discovery of marijuana grow operations and additional firearms,” continued the judgment.

Edwardsen was charged with 17 counts relating to possession and trafficking in controlled substances and various firearms charges, it said.

Mr. Justice Punnett’s ruling states “On April 11, 2014 counsel for the accused requested disclosure of material from the Crown, including source handler notes and source debriefing reports relating to the informants upon whose information the affiant relied in the [information to obtain the search warrants].

The Crown provided some disclosure but refused to disclose the source handler notes and source debriefing reports on the basis these materials were not relevant and in any event were protected by informant privilege,” continued the judgment.

The Crown argued that “there were other grounds in the [information to obtain] sufficient to justify issuance of the warrants, apart from information provided by informants…It argues that informant privilege extends over the entirety of materials relating to confidential informants and asserts that the materials cannot be edited so as to protect the identify of informants…”

Edwardsen’s defence lawyer Kenneth Westlake said that not getting access to these materials “violates his (Edwardsen’s) right to make full answer and defence, specifically by depriving him of a basis upon which to challenge the [information to obtain] and resulting authorizations,” continues the judgment.

The next scheduled court date is later this summer.