Regina v. H.C. (2020)
H.C. found not guilty after three-day judge alone trial, Toronto of Robbery with a Firearm. Someone had posted a fake escort advertisement and when the complainant showed up for his ‘date’, he was met by two masked robbers who pointed firearms at him and robbed him. The complainant could not provide clear identification of the robbers. All the police had to go on was the cellphone number that was used in the advertisement. A couple of weeks later, the police received a call from an anonymous tipster describing having been robbed in the same manner as the complainant with the robbers using the same fake advertisement for the escort and the same phone number. The tipster indicated that he had been instructed by the robbers to attend a particular address. The police went to the area and located H.C. and his co-accused sitting in a vehicle. The police arrested them. They located two firearms and the cellphone with the phone number used in the fake advertisements. The police acquired the phone records for the cellphone. Though it was registered to a fake name, the phone was used to make several calls to family members of H.C. Christopher Assie of Neuberger & Partners LLP, was retained as the criminal defence lawyer. In discussions with the Crown, the Crown felt it was a “slam dunk” against H.C. but that they did not have sufficient evidence against H.C.’s co-accused and eventually withdrew against him prior to trial. The Crown was very confident and did not understand why H.C. was not pleading guilty. After all, the phone that was used to set up the robberies made repeated calls to H.C.’s family in the month of the robberies, H.C. was found in a vehicle with the cellphone in question, with H.C. and two firearms. In the Crown’s opinion, this was slam dunk. However, under careful scrutiny, the evidence melted away. The Crown was unable to call the evidence that the cellphone was used on the night H.C. was arrested to set up an identical robbery to the one he was on trial for. The reason was that the anonymous tipster’s statements to the police was hearsay and thus inadmissible. The relevance of the two firearms found in the car on night of the arrest was not relevant to proving the identity of the robbers. The firearms used on the night of the robbery were described differently than those located in the car on the night of the arrest. The Crown failed to appreciate that the co-accused – the one whom the Crown ultimately withdrew against – was H.C.’s cousin. The defence was able to establish that it was common for H.C.’s cousin to contact his extended family members by phone. How then could we be sure that the phone belonged to H.C. and not his former co-accused? Both equally had access to the phone that was linked to the robbery. In the end, the judge found H.C. not guilty of all charges.
Regina v. X.W. (2020)
Charges of Importing a Prohibited Device x 2 and Possession of a Prohibited Device (Suppressor), and Custom Act charges all withdrawn after extensive pre-trials, Newmarket Court. X.W. participates in the airsoft sport and has numerous airsoft weapons. He ordered online devices from a Chinese manufacturer for his airsoft weapons. The devices were seized by Canadian Customs and examined. The Customs officer did a Google search and determined that the items were “suppressors” and hence prohibited devices. A controlled delivery was set up and the client was arrested by ETF. Joseph Neuberger was retained as his criminal defence lawyer. Joseph Neuberger immediately wrote to the Crown that a search via Google was insufficient to determine if the items seized were “prohibited devices” and requested the police to have the Centre of Forensic Science test the items as to their operability. Joseph Neuberger also retained a firearms expert to assist with review of the Crown’s report should it be necessary. In addition, criminal lawyer Joseph Neuberger, researched the manufacturer of the impugned items and determined that these items do not meet the specifications for suppressors and thus would not meet the definition of prohibited devices. After receipt of the CFS report, it was determined that the devices were in fact not “prohibited devices” and thus all charges were withdrawn.