Porn videos admissible
But judge in Wing Lee trial wraps RCMP for fumbling evidence
NNSL (Jul 10/98) - Videotaped evidence seized during two raids on the home Wing Lee can be used as evidence against him despite police bungling, an NWT Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday.
Lee's defence lawyer, Andrew Mahar, however, "did a good job of raising a number of significant issues that I can't adequately address orally from the bench," said Justice John Vertes yesterday after handing down his decision.
The judge said he would provide a written explanation next week.
Lee is facing 24 sex-related charges, including possession of child pornography and paying for sex with a minor. The Crown's case rests primarily on videotapes that reportedly show Lee having sex with minors.
Vertes on Wednesday said the RCMP should have kept better track of the videotapes they seized.
"It's incredible that police seized items and did not follow their own procedures for cataloguing the times specific items were seized," he said.
Vertes made the comment after Crown prosecutor Mark Scrivens told the court the 30 tapes seized during the first raid in May of last year had not been kept separate from the 1,275 seized during a second search.
After seizing the first 30 tapes -- and watching one of them -- police used another warrant to seize evidence of the sex and pornography crimes Lee is now charged with. They returned with the warrant and seized the remaining tapes.
Mahar and Lee himself argued that the first 30 tapes had been seized illegally because the first warrant only authorized police to collect evidence of gambling and gun offences.
"If we can't segregate them from the 1,305 tapes what does that mean?" said Vertes. "If I rule the 30 tapes are inadmissible, that means all of the tapes are tainted."
The night of the raid, police ran one of the videos on a VCRs in Lee's bedroom. They said it shows Lee having sex with a girl they knew to be a minor.
Mahar argued the search warrant did not entitle police to watch the tape and did not entitle them to seize any tapes, since they could in no way be considered evidence of gambling or gun offences.
On Tuesday Lee said police did not have any authority to search his bedroom, saying it amounted to "break and enter."
All evidence of gambling activities was in the room across the hall, he said, in the gaming room.
After Vertes' ruling, Lee made one last plea to the judge to reconsider his decision. But he used it up complaining the police had "lied to the newspaper to ruin my reputation." Lee was referring to police reports that guns seized at the scene were not properly registered.