Alleged drug trafficker to remain behind bars

After nearly two months in jail awaiting a hearing, a local man alleged to have trafficked in marijuana and cocaine was denied bail

After spending nearly two months in jail awaiting a hearing, a local man alleged to have trafficked in marijuana and cocaine was denied bail following a two-day hearing Oct. 30-31.

David Harry Edwardsen, 49, has been in custody since his arrest Sept. 19 and is now at the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre.

Judge Herman Seidemann III said he believed that Edwardsen was well-known and if released, he would not re-offend in a small community like Terrace as he might in a big city; however, he said that Edwardsen would be kept in jail to ensure that the public could maintain its confidence in the administration of justice.

On Sept. 19, police executed five search warrants on five properties in Terrace and area – Edwardsen’s residence at 604 Old Lakelse Lake Road,  two other residences on that same road, one  residence on King Ave. in Thornhill and a residence on Bohler Rd.

It marked a milestone in a 14-month investigation into a Terrace-area organized crime unit, said police at that time.

Emergency Response Team officers, similar to a SWAT team, were part of the officers at Edwardsen’s place due to a concern about weapons, said Terrace RCMP inspector Dana Hart.

Police seized drugs, including more than 500 marijuana plants from three different grow-ops; 1.5 kg of cocaine; 24 tablets of ecstasy; 17 grams of hashish, 32 grams of magic mushrooms and also prescription drugs, said police.

Investigators also recovered 110 long guns, including rifles and shotguns, and several handguns from two of the search sites, said police.

Four others were arrested along with Edwardsen but later released; they remained uncharged as of Nov. 2.

Prosecutors have laid 17 charges against Edwardsen: four counts of trafficking, three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, one charge of production of a controlled substance, four firearms charges, two charges for possessing a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition, one charge of possessing prohibited weapon without a licence and six charges of unauthorized possession of a firearm.

At least two of the seized firearms carried a minimum sentence of three years, prosecutor Adrienne Switzer told court in giving her reasons for Edwardsen being denied bail.

Defence lawyer Greg Cranston argued the presence of firearms was due to serious bear problems on Edwardsen’s Old Lakelse Lake property.

He showed photos to the judge and crown that he said showed large scratch marks on the outside of the residence’s door  that looked like a bear had  tried to scratch its way through the door.

Bears had attacked Edwardsen’s dogs only a day before the police executed their search warrant at the property, he said.

Switzer argued that the fear of a bear attack on Edwardsen’s dogs or of one breaking down his door may be reason for having a gun in the house but not for having several loaded guns kept in a “haphazard” manner “scattered” throughout the room.

Cranston argued that Crown didn’t have much of a case as it didn’t even have fingerprint evidence even though the baggies containing drugs and other items are excellent for finding fingerprints.

As it’s a bail hearing, that doesn’t mean Crown doesn’t have fingerprint evidence, but often all the evidence isn’t shown to court during a bail hearing, said Switzer.

The drugs seized were meant for redistribution and that’s the matter before the court, not whether the prosecution had enough evidence, she added.

In his comments before making his decision on bail, Seidemann said protecting oneself from bears with a loaded weapon made sense, but not a loaded weapon that carries with it a minimum sentence of three years.

Edwardsen’s next scheduled court date is Nov. 27 for arraignment. Two people had offered to post sureties had he been released.