EDMONTON — A small-time drug trafficker has been handed a lighter sentence after the judge ruled the man was forced to undergo a humiliating and degrading strip search by RCMP.
Dylan Brown, 26, pleaded guilty in December to selling cocaine and meth worth about $120 to an undercover Mountie in Sherwood Park near Edmonton.
The Crown sought a sentence of one year in jail on the trafficking charge, but Brown asked for a 90-day intermittent sentence.
"The Crown's proposal of a 12-month custodial sentence is the sentence which an accused in the circumstances of Mr. Brown might have expected,'' Court of Queen's Bench Justice Joanne Veit said in a written judgment.
"However, in light of the unreasonable strip search of Mr. Brown, and the unreasonable way in which it was conducted, a fair sentence is a 90 days' intermittent jail sentence and a two-year probation period.''
According to the court ruling, six RCMP and a police dog took part in Brown's arrest after he sold a Mountie 1.1 grams of soft cocaine for $100 and 0.11 grams of meth for $20.00.
Officers who searched him did not find any more drugs or a weapon.
Strip search was videotaped
Brown was taken to the RCMP detachment, where he was strip searched, which was videotaped.
He was told to remove his clothing item by item and had to stand there while each was searched. The constable then visually checked Brown's genital and anal areas for contraband. No drugs or weapons were found.
The officer testified the process took less than a minute but he could not account for the 16 minutes that Brown was in the search area before being placed in another room.
Veit noted the strip search was not authorized by a police supervisor and the officer did not take any notes about the search.
The officer testified that strip searches in such drug cases are routine.
Search was conducted "unreasonably"
Veit noted the Supreme Court of Canada emphasized in a 2001 ruling that police must have reasonable and probable grounds to conduct a strip search.
"The strip search of Mr. Brown was unreasonable and the unreasonable strip search was conducted unreasonably,'' Veit's ruling says.
"The practice of the police officer who conducted Mr. Brown's strip search to conduct a strip search every time ... after an arrest for street level trafficking produced no drugs was not a reasonable basis on which to inflict such a humiliating, degrading search as a strip search.''
Veit said Brown's sentence also takes into account the 34 days he spent in jail on the charges and the fact that he has since given up drugs and has a job.