Convictions upheld for pair arrested in RCMP Sylvan Lake drug operation

Kyle Schellenberger and Robyn Lehner convicted of drug and weapons charges in 2019

A man and woman busted following an RCMP drug investigation in Sylvan Lake have lost their bids to overturn their convictions.

Kyle Dale Schellenberger, then-29, was convicted of possession of cocaine and marijuana and several weapons offences last year. Robyn Michelle Lehner, then-34, was convicted of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

Both were arrested, along with four others in October 2016, following a five-month RCMP drug trafficking operation in which a number of suspects were kept under surveillance before police descended on four residences, including two used by Schellenberger and Lehner.

At Lehner’s one-bedroom basement suite, police found three ounces of cocaine, a scale, plastic baggies and other drug paraphernalia.

The raid on Schellenberger’s four-bedroom home turned up 1.6 grams of marijuana, a small amount of cocaine and four firearms in an open hockey bag on the floor of the master bedroom. Ammunition was also found in the bedroom and at other spots around the house.

In their appeals, which were heard jointly on June 10 by a three-judge panel, lawyers for Schellenberger and Lehner argued the judge who convicted them failed to adequately consider “inferences that were inconsistent with the appellants’ possession of the firearms and controlled substances…”

The judge also “erred by filling in the blanks or bridging gaps in the evidence to draw inferences in favour of the Crown.

“(The appellants) submit the verdict is unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence.”

Lehner argued that the judge failed to consider she was not the sole occupant of the basement suite and that the cocaine could have been for personal use.

The appeal court judges noted that the RCMP surveillance picked up Lehner regularly coming and going from the residence, parking her Mercedes outside. She kept a dog there, routinely brought in groceries and was the only person police saw regularly going to the basement suite.

On the trafficking conviction, the appeal court decision notes the judge accepted expert evidence that “the amount of cocaine was inconsistent even with heavy use and found that the drug paraphernalia, including the score sheet, scales and packaging, all gave rise to the only reasonable inference that the possession was for the purpose of trafficking.”

Schellenberger argued that the judge failed to consider that he was only a guest in the home and others were responsible for the drugs and guns.

The appeal court points out Schellenberger’s personal documents were found in a shoe box in the master bedroom and he was seen arriving and parking in the garage.

“As with Lehner’s appeal, no evidence was presented at trial that might have supported the inferences now urged by the appellant,” say the appeal court judges in their decision Tuesday.

“The appellants have failed to satisfy us that there is a reviewable error in the verdict.”

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