COPS BROKE INTO HOUSE, WITNESS TESTIFIES
Police found hundreds of marijuana plants
WHITBY - A defence witness has testified that he saw police break into a Pickering house in which a marijuana grow operation was later found.
The evidence, from municipal animal control officer Scott Gibb, appeared to contradict versions of events provided by Durham Regional Police officers, who have told Superior Court Justice Barry MacDougall that the door of the home stood wide open as they watched two vicious dogs disappear through it.
Police have testified the door was insecure and would not latch, leading them to believe someone may have broken into 560 Highview Rd.
on April 20, 2003. Officers have pointed to the presence of the dogs in the house, and their suspicion that someone may have been inside with them, as grounds for entering the house without a search warrant.
But Mr. Gibb, one of the animal control officers called to round up the large dogs, said Thursday he saw police forcibly enter the home.
"One of the constables took out his extendable baton... and the pane of glass was broken in the front door," he said under questioning by defence lawyer Leora Shenesh.
"Somebody put their hand in and opened the latch from the outside."
Mr. Gibb also said officers were discussing the possibility there may be drugs in the house before entry was made.
"I was informed possibly some other criminal activity could be involved," he said.
"A marijuana operation, I believe."
Another animal control officer, Anthony Woodward, said he heard talk of the possible presence of drugs inside the house.
Mr. Woodward said he also believed the front door of the house was locked as police and animal control officers huddled outside, formulating a plan on how to deal with the two large dogs.
Both officers told Ms. Shenesh that they entered the house to deal with the dogs, one of which was fatally shot, after conferring with police. Both said that had they made the call, they'd have left the dogs inside the house and not attempted to capture them.
Ms. Shenesh has filed a Charter motion, asking the judge to rule the search by police illegal. Crown attorney Sevag Yeghoyan has conceded that police entered the house without a warrant, but had justifiable reasons to.
When police did finally enter the house, they discovered more than 560 marijuana plants and dried dope in packages. Kim Young Dun Kim, 30, is charged with operating a marijuana grow operation and trafficking drugs.
Durham police originally responded to an animal complaint after two large dogs ran through the neighbourhood, one of them biting someone.
Two officers have told the judge that they watched as the dogs ran through the open front door and into 560 Highview.
The smell of fresh marijuana wafted through the open door, officers testified. It was during a perimeter search of the property the cops noticed other signs of a grow op, including lights in the basement, covered windows and the sound of exhaust fans, Justice MacDougall heard.
Officers said drug unit cops were notified and the process of obtaining a search warrant launched. But police entered the house before that warrant was obtained.
The lawyers made final submissions in the case Thursday afternoon. The judge is to rule next month.