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BC Man Searched for Having Dreadlocks While Driving BMW


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[color:blue]I can’t imagine this will withstand an appeal, but until this judgment is overturned, check out the current law of search and seizure in British Columbia…

Matherston Man Convicted of Cocaine Possession

Nick Richards

Matherston Daily - Staff Writer

April 1, 2006

Thirty-two-year-old Winston DePasse was pulled over for speeding on October 22, 2005 while driving his 2005 BMW M3 Cabriolet along the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway (Route 16). Const. Maloney and Sgt. McPhillips of the Matherston, Detachment of the RCMP searched the BMW’s trunk, the interior, and Mr. DePasse’s pockets, finding 3.2 grams of cocaine.

Mr. DePasse was charged with simple possession of cocaine, and he was tried and convicted on Friday. At trial, DePasse’s lawyer hotly contested the search as “unreasonable†and unconstitutional.

In his judgment, Justice Burns of the B.C. Supreme Court said, “The officers testified that the defendant looked suspicious, especially given the expensive vehicle he was driving. His hair was in knots, in what are fashionably called ‘dreadlocks’, and he wore unusual clothing. It is also not insignificant that he is of African descent, and speaks with an Antiguan accent, which is uncommon in Matherston. While the law has traditionally been loathe to allow peace officers to search citizens on the basis of their appearance or race, such matters must be judged on a case-by-case basis, and in this case I find that the defendant’s appearance and his ethnicity were so extraordinary for this region that it was reasonable for the officers to conduct the search. I find the defendant guilty on the single count in this indictment.â€

DePasse’s lawyer, Jim MacSweeney, promises an appeal. “This ruling turns the law of search and seizure upside down. You can’t search someone who was caught speeding, just because he’s black and in an expensive car. There are Charter and civil liberty issues all over this. I look forward to testing this judgment at the Court of Appeal.â€

At the time of printing, Crown Counsel could not be reached for comment.

Click here to read the Court judgment.

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In all seriousness, precedents like this one are very scary. It only takes one judgment to be cited in other cases to start the rest of the country down a slippery slope, and as StaggerLee pointed out, when you read this judgment it actually sounds way too compelling.

Scary times we live in.

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The question I have is simply at what point does a crime become "serious" enough that we get upset by loopholes in the system that allow the offender to go free? Because essentially this guy is probably gonna wind up beating the cocaine charge on a "technicality or loophole" in the system. If he was a child molester or rapist everyone would be all in favor of his arrest regardless of how it came about.

Obviously cocaine possesion isnt as socially abhorrent as child molesting or rape, but it is still a crime.

I have always believed in the old adage "Dont do the crime, if you cant do the time"

If you choose to break the law, dont whine about it when you get caught.

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