‘Bed pan vigil’ for B.C. man ruled unlawful

Rights of suspect were violated, judgment says

When two Langley RCMP officers suspected a man was a trafficker who was concealing drugs in his rectum, they ordered a “bed pan vigil,” where a suspect is placed in a “dry cell” with no running water while the police wait for nature to take its course.

As it turned out, the man was concealing a bag of drugs, and after testing the contents of the bag, he was charged with possessing heroin and cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

But when the case came to court this summer, Surrey Provincial Court Judge Robert Hamilton ruled the initial arrest and the bed pan vigil search that followed were unlawful.

The written reasons for the April judgment, recently posted online, relate how a Langley RCMP constable became suspicious after pulling a driver over for a sobriety check near a Langley tavern in August 2015.

The constable testified that as he approached the vehicle, he noticed that the driver’s seat was reclined and observed that the man’s “hands were behind his back and down the back of his pants.”

The officer said he decided to arrest the driver for possession of marijuana because he was able to detect “a strong odour of vegetative marijuana” and called in a second officer.

They handcuffed the driver, put him in the police cruiser and searched the car, finding what they said appeared to be a marijuana grinder with flakes.

The charge was changed to possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

On the way back to the Langley RCMP detachment, the officers took the suspect to Langley Memorial Hospital, because, they said, he seemed to be ill.

One constable told the ER doctor that he believed that the driver “had secreted drugs in his body cavity and asked the doctor to retrieve those drugs.”

But with no warrant and no consent from the driver, the doctor refused.

Back at the detachment, the officer was granted an application by a judicial justice over the phone to hold the driver for three days in a dry cell.

There was another trip to the LMH ER, where once again, the driver refused to consent to any medical treatment and the ER doctor said there was no need to admit the man to hospital.

During the second hospital visit, the officers said they were trying to persuade the driver that “keeping the drugs inside of him was risking his health.”

After a couple of hours, the suspect asked a female officer to leave the room and “took down his trousers and retrieved the drugs.”

The drugs were then sent for analysis and determined to be heroin and cocaine.

Given the volume of the drugs, the man was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

At a hearing on whether the seized drugs were admissible as evidence, the judge ruled that the officer “had the necessary subjective grounds” to make the initial arrest for possession of marijuana, but not enough to justify charging the driver with the more serious offence of trafficking.

The judge noted the flakes found during the cars search weren’t sent for testing to determine if they were marijuana, so there was no evidence “that the device identified as a marijuana grinder contained marijuana.”

As for the bed pan vigil, the judge said just seeing the driver put his hands behind his back did not “raise a credibly based probability” that the man had secreted drugs inside a body cavity.

READ MORE: Drug overdoses almost a daily occurrence in Langley City

READ MORE: B.C. says 50-50 pot tax split with feds not good enough



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley Ringette Association requests equal ice time

The Comox Valley Ringette Association has appealed to the regional district for… Continue reading

Vancouver Island under a thunderstorm watch tonight

Environment Canada forecasts downpour and possible thunder and lightning

Vancouver Island NDP MP responds to Liberal’s throne speech

’Feds say nice things but when it comes to taking action it’s a different story’ says North Island- Powell River MP, Rachel Blaney

Suspicious van report leads police to issue important reminders

Police received a report about a suspicious white van driving slowly around Comox.

Sheila McDonnell elected chair of Comox Valley Schools board

Sheila McDonnell was elected chair of the Comox Valley Schools board of… Continue reading

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Courtenay doctor completes virtual Boston Marathon

Janet Green has run another Boston Marathon — a virtual one —… Continue reading

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

Most Read