POLITICS

Rob Ford friend, co-accused to call no witnesses as drug trial nears end

04/28/2015 02:35 EDT | Updated 08/02/2015 08:59 EDT
TORONTO - The trial of Rob Ford's driver heard from its final witnesses on Tuesday with the defence alluding to the extraordinary investigation that yielded only small quantities of drugs and just four arrests.

However, Ontario Court Justice Ramez Khawly refused to allow in-depth cross-examination of the police officer who swore a 476-page document used to support the search warrants used in the case.

"This area of examination … would go to a potential entrapment," lawyer Jacob Stilman told the court, noting the document contained "reams and reams and reams of information" about Ford.

Khawly sided with the prosecution's objection that the line of questioning was irrelevant.

The defence said it would call no witnesses to rebut the Crown's case against Alexander (Sandro) Lisi and co-accused Jamshid (Jay) Bahrami, owner of a west-end dry cleaners, setting the stage for closing submissions on Wednesday.

Both men are charged with cannabis trafficking. Lisi is also charged with possession of a small quantity of marijuana while Bahrami is charged with cocaine possession. They have pleaded not guilty.

Court has previously heard how police became interested in Lisi because they believed he had swapped drugs for Ford's lost cellphone in the spring of 2013.

An intense surveillance operation and investigation that lasted months finally led police to allege Bahrami had brokered a marijuana deal between Lisi and an undercover officer worth $900.

Earlier in the day, the officer who arrested Lisi testified he never saw him hold or drop a pop can that was later found to contain marijuana.

Const. Jason Heard did testify hearing what he thought was a tin can hit the ground as he rushed to arrest Lisi outside Bahrami's dry cleaners on Oct. 1, 2013.

"It didn't mean anything to me at the time," Heard said.

Instead, he said, he focused on the arrest of the "high profile character."

"I yelled, 'Police don't move!' I yelled, 'Show me your hands! Get down!'"

Lisi, 36, had $900 in marked police money when arrested — apparently from the undercover officer's buy of 220 grams of pot in Bahrami's store.

The container, later retrieved by another officer from the plaza parking lot near Lisi's Range Rover, turned out to be a fake ginger ale can in which 6.4 grams of marijuana was found.

The can, not tested for fingerprints, was similar to two empty ones found in Lisi's vehicle, court has heard.

Heard described forcing Lisi to the ground but denied the takedown was aggressive even though the suspect ended up with a scrape on his face.

"He's calm but he's not compliant," Heard said. "I wouldn't call it resisting but I wouldn't call it complying."

By contrast, Bahrami, who had watched the arrest from inside his store, seemed terrified, court heard.

"Mr. Bahrami was extremely panicked," Heard said.

Bahrami, 49, who has a severe and painful arthritic condition, was licensed to have and grow medicinal marijuana. A tiny amount of cocaine was found in his store, court heard.

Police also charged two other men separately in the investigation with minor drug offences.