Supreme Court dismisses appeal in grow-op case, new trial to go ahead

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled against a British Columbia man who was seeking to avoid a second trial in a marijuana grow-op case.

Thanh Long Vu was charged after an RCMP raid on a house in Langley, B.C., in September 2007.

The police seized two computers and a cellphone in the raid, but the trial judge threw out evidence gleaned from them, saying the authorizing warrant should have been more specific about electronic documents.

With the evidence excluded, Vu was acquitted, but the B.C. Court of Appeal disagreed with the ruling and ordered a new trial.

Vu appealed to the high court, which ruled against him in a 9-0 decision.

Writing for the court, Justice Thomas Cromwell said he agreed with the trial judge that the warrant did not authorize the search of the computers and phone, but overall it was not a serious violation of rights and the evidence should not have been excluded.

“While every search of a personal or home computer is a significant invasion of privacy, the search here did not step outside the purposes for which the warrant had been issued and it did not include forensic examination,” Cromwell wrote.

“The evidence obtained was reliable, real evidence which was important to the adjudication of the charges on their merits.”

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