Sorrento man found not guilty of possessing child pornography

Judge deems evidence obtained from laptop without warrant inadmissible.

The trial of a Notch Hill man accused of possessing and accessing child pornography quickly drew to a close after the judge ruled police had violated his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

As well as charges of possessing and accessing child pornography, Charles Gleave, 77, was facing one count of flight from a police officer and one count of obstruction of a police officer in the course of their duties.

He was found not guilty of all four charges in BC Supreme Court in Salmon Arm Friday.

The trial ended after Justice Hope Hyslop ruled on a voir dire – or a trial within a trial – in which she was asked to determine whether evidence police had obtained during a search of Gleave’s truck and laptop computer was admissible. She ruled it was not.

“What the judge said very much parallels what we submitted to the court. You can’t search computers without a warrant,” remarked Gleave’s defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen following the judge’s decision.

He noted the case is interesting because it addresses privacy rights regarding evolving technology such as laptops and phones.

Justice Hyslop had agreed with the defence that the administration of justice would be brought into disrepute by including the evidence, based on the charter violations of unreasonable search and seizure and being arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

Gleave was arrested shortly after midnight on March 31, 2014 after police were advised of a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of the Sorrento fire hall.

When a police officer drove up behind Gleave’s truck and turned on the vehicle’s emergency lights, the court heard that Gleave drove away slightly faster than walking speed for about 50 metres. He stopped within two feet of another police vehicle that had blocked the road.

During Friday’s proceedings, after the judge dismissed the evidence for the child pornography charges, she dealt with the remaining two counts.

Crown counsel Mariane Armstrong told the court that Gleave’s obligation when the officer came up behind him was to stop, but he didn’t do so.

Verdurmen suggested that Gleave’s driving at a slow speed for a relatively short distance could be consistent with him wanting to get out of the path of an emergency vehicle.

The judge concluded that the Crown had not made its case and found Gleave not guilty of the remaining two charges: flight from and obstruction of a police officer.