Information from Confidential Informant Provided Reasonable Grounds for Warrant

Monday, January 25, 2021

Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer, serving Calgary, Okotoks, Airdrie, Strathmore, Cochrane, Canmore, Didsbury, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Turner Valley.

Information from Confidential Informant Provided Reasonable Grounds for Warrant

Police obtained a search warrant under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act for the accused’s residence based on an Information to Obtain that relied on information from a Confidential Informant. The information provided from the Informant and sought by police was particularized in an Appendix to the ITO and included methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Another Appendix to the ITO listed possession of powdered cocaine.

The search warrant was executed and the accused was charged with possession of crystal meth for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by a crime.

When the second Appendix was disclosed to the defence, it was completely redacted.

At trial, the accused argued that the search violated section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and sought the quashing of the search warrant and the exclusion of the evidence obtained. The defence argued that there were no reasonable grounds for the issuance of the warrant, and added that the second Appendix inaccurately described the offence being investigated.

Upon application by the defence, the Crown provided the second Appendix that was only partially redacted. The Appendix disclosed that the CI told the police that the accused was a meth dealer, that the accused sold large amounts of the drug and that the CI purchased meth from the accused. The CI gave the accused’s address and full name.

The Crown then moved under Step 6 of Garofoli to have the trial judge prepare and release a Judicial Summary of the redacted portions of the Appendix. After an exchange of questions with the Crown which were sealed in the court file, the trial judge released the Summary:

  • The Appendix did not disclose the name of the CI;
  • It disclosed whether the CI had a criminal record for crimes of dishonesty;
  • It disclosed information previously provided to the police by the CI and whether that information led to arrests and the seizure of contraband;
  • It disclosed the recency of the information obtained by the CI and the location where the information was obtained;
  • It disclosed the recency of the CI information provided about the accused;
  • It disclosed the number of times the CI purchased crystal methamphetamine from the accused; and
  • It disclosed a nexus between drug activities and the accused’s address.

Defence counsel argued that the judicial summary was inadequate and asked the trial judge to provide more information. The trial judge refused the request.

The trial judge then dismissed the section 8 argument.

The trial judge found that the CI tip disclosed firsthand information to the police about the CI purchasing meth from the accused. The information in the unredacted ITO and Appendix confirmed the purchase and information about the accused including his name, nickname, physical description, address and drug trafficking activities.

The trial judge also found that the information provided by the CI was independently corroborated to some degree by police surveillance of the accused’s residence and the accused’s criminal record for drug offences.

The trial judge concluded that the information provided by the CI was compelling and credible and was corroborated. The information provided by the CI as corroborated was sufficient to furnish reasonable grounds to believe that drugs would be found at the accused’s residence.

The listing of the drug as powdered cocaine instead of meth was nothing more than a drafting error and did not give rise to a Charter breach.

This judgement provides a helpful view of the jurisprudence governing a Garofoli application to quash a search warrant. This includes the approach to be taken to confidential informant information at Step 6, which can be difficult for all parties to navigate.

Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer based in Calgary. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or are a suspect in a criminal investigation, call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.