Missing defendant arrives as marijuana trafficking conspiracy trial begins

missing_defendant_arrives_as_marijuanaA missing defendant showed up and one of the five co-accused was set free Tuesday, as a marijuana trafficking conspiracy trial got underway in Saint John.

Dwayne Noel Ireland, who had car trouble in Quebec on his way from Calgary to the trial, slipped into his seat Tuesday after the judge was already on the bench.

As the seven lawyers were identifying themselves for the court record, Mr. Ireland sat down. When his lawyer John Henderson said, “my client is present”, several head turned quickly to look where the five accused were sitting.

After the initial appearances the trial was delayed for most of the morning while prosecutors and defence lawyers met behind closed doors.

At the end of the morning the Crown withdrew charges of possession of proceeds of crime and conspiracy to traffic against Kevin Michael Mailman. He and his lawyer Brian Munro are now no longer part of the trial.

Those remaining to be tried are Angus Jason Blizzard, John Adam Young, the accused and Mr. Ireland.

The four remaining defence lawyers began arguments they hope will convince Mr. Justice Peter Glennie of the Court of Queen’s Bench to throw out the charges.

Calgary lawyer Patrick Fagan, who is representing the accused said there were 19 search warrants issued between February and September 2003 relating to the men on trial.

They were for homes, motel rooms, cars and even luggage in airports.

The privacy of many New Brunswickers, including the accused, was compromised, said Mr. Fagan.

The defence lawyers are arguing that there were insufficient grounds to issue some of the warrants. Many of the 19 warrants were issued by one judge, so they believe that could also show a bias which would undermine the credibility of the justice system.

Evidence gathered through the warrants was used to obtain the authorization for wire taps. They argue that if the search warrant fails then any evidence gathered through the wiretaps should also be excluded.

Mr. Justice Glennie is expected to rule in the next few days on whether the trial should go ahead.