10/28/2014 09:59 EDT | Updated 12/28/2014 05:59 EST

Grow-op evidence seized with phoned-in warrant not valid, B.C. judge rules

Evidence collected at an alleged grow-operation at a Lake Country house in 2011—including 707 marijuana plants—will not be allowed in court because the RCMP officer that requested a search warrant did so by telephone.

On the strength of the evidence collected by use of the warrant the man was charged with unlawful production of marijuana, possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, and theft from B.C. Hydro.

In B.C. Supreme Court, Justice G.P. Weatherill found that the search warrant used to seize the plants, along with equipment for a hydro bypass, $500 in cash and two gold rings, was not valid under the Criminal Code.

He also ruled that the accused's Charter rights had been violated.

The RCMP officer had stated that obtaining telephone warrants were standard practice in the area, something which the judge strongly rejected as acceptable practice.

"There is no evidence in this case of any urgency to the search and seizure or that a reasonable attempt was made to obtain a warrant in person," Weatherill notes in his judgment. 

"Furthermore, there is no evidence that the accused had a suspicion that a warrant was about to be executed on the premises or that he was likely to flee."

Lawyer John Conroy has worked on similar cases and applauds the decision.

"If the police can always just disregard the law in order to simply get the evidence," he told CBC News, "why do we have these constitutional values?

The Crown can appeal the case and send it to a higher court.