Man beats fentanyl trafficking charge due to charter violation. Here’s the video of the dog sniffing the car


A B.C. Justice recently threw out the case against a man charged with trafficking 27,500 fentanyl pills.

In a decision published in January, he said it wasn’t clear if the dog sat or not.

And new video, obtained exclusively by Global News, shows the entirety of the traffic stop, including the moment the dog investigates the vehicle.  

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READ MORE: Did the drug-sniffing dog sit or not? Debate leads to man’s acquittal in B.C. fentanyl bust

Here’s why the extent of the dog’s sit matters: If the dog properly sat down, it would have indicated the dog was “in odour,” meaning it had found drugs.

But in the case of Sandor Rigo, who was stopped on a Chilliwack highway in April 2017, the dog, named PSD Doods, was unable to sit down all the way. The police officer who made the stop said this was because a curb was in the way.

An officer who stopped Rigo – only identified by the Justice’s decision as Corporal Catellier – said he believed the dog was in odour and had the car towed so it could be thoroughly searched. Police say over 27,000 fentanyl pills were found in the wheel well.

The dash-camera video from the RCMP vehicle, obtained by Global News, offers a partial view of what happened.

The video shows the officer pulling over Rigo, who was driving a Dodge Caravan. The officer can be heard asking Rigo where he was going and why he appeared to be shaking. Rigo answered that he was picking up used tires from a friend and he was shaking due to hypoglycemia, a condition which requires people to eat frequently to keep their blood-sugar levels stable.

Rigo was then asked to exit his van and sit in the RCMP vehicle. That’s when Cpl. Catellier brought PSD Doods to sniff the outside of the van.

RCMP PDS Doods sniffs Sandor Rigo’s van.

HO / RCMP dashcam video of traffic stop

The dog can be seen sniffing the outside of the driver’s side of the van. She is then directed to the passenger side of the van, which is out of view of the dash camera, and next to a high concrete curb.

On the video, the moment in question can be heard, but only partially seen. The officer repeatedly says, “Good girl,” to PSD Doods, as she is seen at the side of the car. .

A partially obstructed view of PSD Doods sniffing Sandor Rigo’s vehicle.

Court Handout

An expert witness in court said the dog wasn’t showing other signs of being in odour — which normally includes wagging her tail.

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But the officer testified at the time that she displayed the other signs when she was out of sight of the video.

In his decision, which was made public in January 2018, Justice Michael Brundrett said since the dog was only shown in a “partial form of ‘alert,’” there wasn’t reasonable grounds to search the vehicle.

Brundrett said Rigo’s charter rights were violated, specifically articles 8 and 10(b), which pertain to the right to be secure against detainment, search and seizure, and the right to a lawyer.

Because of this, all evidence collected after the charter breach had to be thrown out.

Criminal lawyer Dino Bottos said even if the officer is proven correct because drugs were found in the car after the fact, in cases like these the public has to remember that “the ends do not justify the means.”

He said the judge has to maintain impartiality.

When a judge excludes evidence obtained during an unlawful search and seizure, he or she is doing so not to favour a particular accused, but rather to uphold what is written into our Constitution,” he explained. 

Anything obtained after the charter violation – in this case that would be the physical drugs as well what appears to be a video of Rigo’s confession – is “considered fruit from the poisonedtree.”

“If we’re serious about protecting rights and freedoms, that means that we need to exercise control over police state actions,” Bottos explained. “Which means in this case, when there is a breach of a right, then the only reasonable remedy is to exclude the evidence found as a result of that breach.”

Almost a dozen Canadians died every day from opioid overdoses last year. Since 2016, more than 8,000 have lost their lives, primarily to fentanyl. In British Columbia, the problem has become so bad that life expectancy has dropped for the first time in decades.

WATCH: Global News investigation into the deadly fentanyl trade in Canada

The amounts traffickers are bringing in are believed to be so vast that investigators suspect their money laundering has disrupted the Vancouver-area housing market. It has also put a spotlight on casinos. But when police seize their illicit cash, traffickers often just walk away, seemingly unfazed.

Brundrett said in his decision that it was a serious case, because of the “evils” of fentanyl trafficking, but the integrity of the justice system had to be taken into account.

*With files from Sam Cooper 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Princeton-area man credits Facebook group with helping save his life


When Heather Balaam called 911 from her rural home because her husband was having a heart attack, she couldn’t get through.

“Our cellphone service is so intermittent, it wouldn’t put a signal through,” she said. “And it’s like, oh my god, what do I do now, what do I do now?”

Balaam and her husband, Che Lapointe, live in a remote location along a forest service road in the Princeton area.

The couple doesn’t have a landline, but they do have access to the Internet.

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“My first thing was to go on Facebook and ask people for help,” Balaam said. “And I typed it in capital letters.”

In Princeton’s rants, raves and issues group, she pleaded for somebody to call 911, listing her location and that her husband was having a heart attack

“And apparently four different people phoned in for an ambulance to come for me,” Lapointe said.

But he still had to wait nearly 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

“That was, for me, I think, the scariest point, was sitting there waiting for the ambulance because I really thought I was going to die right there,” Lapointe said.

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In the meantime, some nearby loggers offered Lapointe aspirin, which was something the couple couldn’t find in their own house.

“We have five bathrooms where we live, and there wasn’t an aspirin in any of them. We have first aid kits, and no aspirin there either,” Lapointe said.

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The couple is now reminding other people to ensure their medicine cabinets are stocked with aspirin.

“Have them, even if you’re 35 years old, have them because your mother or your grandmother or the man on the street might collapse and need them,” Balaam said.

“I’m putting aspirin everywhere. In the truck, in the house, every bathroom. Every first aid kit,” Lapointe added.

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Lapointe is now recovering in Kelowna General Hospital, hoping to return home soon. He credits the quick response of people in the Facebook group with playing a big role in helping him get help so quickly.

“I knew somebody would help. I didn’t know who. I didn’t care who. But I knew somebody would help. And I think that’s a miraculous thing,” Balaam said.

Lapointe said he blamed smoking for his heart attack.

“And I’m done. Never again will I ever put a cigarette on these lips,” he said. “Because this is the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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70-year-old Saint John man suffers heart attack after consuming cannabis lollipop


Two Saint John doctors who treated a 70-year-old patient for a heart attack induced by eating a cannabis lollipop, say they’re worried about the unknown risk posed by marijuana edibles, due to be legalized in Canada by next fall. 

« The dosage could easily be underestimated by the users because it doesn’t give you that immediate hit, » said Dr. Robert Stevenson, who saw the patient shortly after he showed up in the emergency room of the Saint John Regional Hospital just over a year ago.

« He was very paranoid, very upset, thought he was going to die at home and then this crushing chest pain started. »  

Stevenson, a cardiologist, recognized the man as his patient. He was already being treated for coronary artery disease. 

He said the man was not a pot smoker and hadn’t smoked pot since his youth.

However, the patient did quickly disclose that he’d taken the lollipop from a friend, hoping to get some relief for his arthritis pain and a little help to sleep. 

Stevenson called on Dr. Alexandra Saunders to try to figure out how much drug the man had consumed. 

Work to determine dose

She asked the patient where he had gotten it from and after conducting an internet search of the dispensary in the area, she called to ask what was in the candy. 

Saunders explained that she was inquiring on behalf of a patient but because she wasn’t a member of the dispensary, says the person on the phone would not give her the dosing information.  

« So I just went onto their website, where it was available anyway. »

Doctors who treated him say they’re worried about the unknown risks of marijuana edibles. 1:01

Saunders said the lollipop contained about 90 mg of THC, whereas a single joint contains about seven mg of THC.

She said the patient didn’t realized what he’d done until he started hallucinating, and she thinks the psychological stress may have triggered the cardiac event.

She said THC also has an inflammatory impact on the lining of the blood vessels, which also have been a factor. 

When asked what dispensary she contacted, Saunders could not recall the name of the shop but thinks it may have been in uptown  Saint John. 

She couldn’t remember the name brand of the lollipop, and the patient never did provide a wrapper.  

Widespread misunderstanding

Stevenson and Saunders had to work to determine the amount of THC in the marijuana lollipop the man consumed. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

Stevenson said the man did recover from his anxiety and was discharged from the hospital within 24 hours. 

« I’ve seen him a couple of times, » Stevenson said. « So far, so good. »

Still, the doctors view this case as an early warning of problems to come. 

They’ve written an article titled « Marijuana Lollipop-Induced Myocardial Infarction, » which has been published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. 

« It heightens our awareness of how these marijuana-naive patients, particularly elderly patients, could easily stumble onto this, looking for some form of relief, » Stevenson said of the case.

As chief internal medicine resident, Saunders said she just came off a rotation where she saw a large population of elderly patients with different types of arthritis.

The federal government plans to make cannabis edibles legal by Oct. 17. (Radio Canada)

She was surprised, she said, by how many of them expressed an interest in using recreational marijuana for pain treatment.

« And these are smaller, older ladies that I never would have thought of, before, » said Saunders. 

Both physicians think there is a widespread misunderstanding that marijuana is a kind of cure-all.

In reality, they said, it’s only medically indicated for just a few problems, including nausea related to cancer treatments and certain seizure conditions.

The federal government has pledged to legalize cannabis edibles no later than Oct. 17, 2019.


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Illinois man arrested in bomb threats made to southern Alberta schools


Police in a southern Alberta town say a man in the U.S. has been charged in connection with bomb threats made to schools and a business in the community last week.

Taber Police announced in a statement from Chief Graham Abela late Saturday that a man in Illinois faces 10 counts of felony bomb threats.

The Horizon School Division said last week in a letter sent home to parents that two schools were the focus of bomb threats in anonymous voicemail messages early Friday.

Police said they investigated and determined the threats to be hoaxes.

Abela thanked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Jackson County Sheriffs Department in Illinois, as well as the Medicine Hat Police Service.

He says the investigation is ongoing and police will be releasing more info on Tuesday.


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Man, 25, dies after being struck by vehicle on Shediac Bridge – New Brunswick


A 25-year-old man has died after he was struck by vehicle while crossing the Shediac Bridge Friday night.

New Brunswick RCMP say they were called to the crash on Route 11 at around 7 p.m.

READ MORE: Police investigating pair of assaults in Halifax

Police believe the victim was crossing the road to get to his parked vehicle when he was struck.

The man from Elsipogtog First Nation died at the scene, according to police. The driver of the vehicle was not injured.

READ MORE: ATM stolen from gas station in southern New Brunswick: RCMP

Police are still investigating the exact cause of the crash. They did not say whether charges will be laid.

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Halton police seek public’s help to find missing Burlington man – Hamilton


Police are asking for the public’s help to find a missing Burlington man.

Halton Regional Police say Ivan Eskit, 67, was last seen leaving his home in the area of Guelph Line and Mountainside Drive in Burlington at around 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

Police say he doesn’t have his medication with him, which he requires daily, and his family is concerned about his well-being.

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Eskit is described as a five-foot-10 white man weighing 200 pounds who has slicked-back grey hair and a goatee. He was last seen wearing a brown shirt, jeans and a grey winter jacket.

Police add that he was last seen driving away in a dark blue 2008 Jeep Patriot four-door SUV with Ontario licence plate BCXV 073.

Eskit also had his two German shepherd dogs with him.

UPDATE — Police locate missing elderly man in Burlington

Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Jared McLeod of the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4747, ext. 2385, or the on-duty staff sergeant at ext. 2310.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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RCMP plead for help finding missing man with dementia who was last seen in Sherwood Park – Edmonton


Strathcona County RCMP issued a plea for help from the public on Friday afternoon as they search for a 74-year-old man with dementia who was last seen in Sherwood Park earlier in the day.

In a news release, police said Robert Marcel Verschaeve may be “unaware of his surroundings.”

Verschaeve was last seen in Sherwood Park at about 1:45 p.m. on Friday. Mounties said he left his rural home near Range Road 232 and Township Road 520 and was last known to be driving his 2011 white Ford F-150 with Alberta licence plate BZX 5010.

“The truck has a water tank in the back and has front-end damage,” police said. “RCMP members have been actively patrolling and searching for Robert to verify his well-being.

Verschaeve is five-foot-seven and about 160 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a red and black jacket and blue jeans.

Anyone with information on Verschaeve’s whereabouts or the location of his vehicle is asked to call the Strathcona County RCMP detachment at 780-467-7741.

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Lethbridge Police searching for missing elderly man


Lethbridge Police are asking for the public’s help as they search for a man reported missing on Saturday.

Eighty-one-year-old Edward Wall is described as Caucasian, 5’10 tall, thin, with short white hair.

Wall was last seen wearing a maroon and black bomber jacket, grey sweats, a ball cap, and glasses.

He was last seen driving a 2016 silver Toyota Rav4 with Alberta Veteran licence plate VJG06.

Wall was last seen driving his 2016 silver Toyota Rav4.

Lethbridge Police

Lethbridge Police say they are concerned for his welfare.

Anyone with information on Wall’s whereabouts is asked to contact police at 403-328-4444.

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Man accused of shooting Manitoba RCMP officer pleads guilty to attempted murder


The man accused of shooting an RCMP officer during series of break-and-enters in western Manitoba has pleaded guilty.

Therae Racette-Beaulieu was charged last August with two counts of attempted murder as well as two counts of break and enter, possession of property obtained by crime and weapons-related offences.

He entered guilty pleas to one count of attempted murder, as well as to breaking and entering, stealing firearms and theft of a motor vehicle in Brandon provincial court on Thursday morning. He was 18 years old at the time of his arrest.

Cpl. Graeme Kingdon was shot near Onanole, Man., a town about 220 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, just south of Riding Mountain National Park, on Aug. 29, 2018. RCMP said Kingdon and another constable had arrived at a report of a break-in at a rural property near Onanole at about 9:30 p.m. when shots were fired.

Kingdon suffered a fractured skull in the shooting, while the other officer was not injured physically.

The shooting sparked a massive manhunt that ended the next afternoon in Neepawa, Man.

Three other men from Portage la Prairie — Tommy Edward Beaulieu, 21, Shane Donovan Beaulieu, 30, and Delaney Marcus Houle, 23 — were also charged in alongside Racette-Beaulieu with two counts each of breaking and entering, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and weapons-related offences.

Houle and Shane Beaulieu were previously granted bail, while Tommy Beaulieu was denied bail and remains in custody. All three have yet to enter pleas and are due in court again in February.

Racette-Beaulieu has been in custody since he was arrested in August. He has no prior convictions in adult court in Manitoba

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March.


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