Trafficking trial stalls over evidence issue

The trial for two drug trafficking suspects got off to a halting start on Monday when it was discovered that police had not checked for fingerprints on some of the evidence.

The trial for two drug trafficking suspects got off to a halting start on Monday when it was discovered that police had not checked for fingerprints on some of the evidence.

Nigel Eatmon, 28, and Christopher Vanoverbeke, 31, were arrested in June 2011 by Red Deer City RCMP.

Police allege seizing a locker that contained about $4,800 in cash, along with various street drugs, including marijuana, psilocybin (magic) mushrooms, ecstasy and MDMA, which is the active ingredient in ecstasy.

Eatmon was allowed to sit and watch from the front row of the gallery while his co-accused, who has been in remand for the past three months, was held in the prisoner’s box.

Represented by defence counsel Lorne Goddard, for Vanoverbeke, and Kevin Sproule, for Eatmon, the two men were scheduled for a five-day trial before Justice Kirk Sisson in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on charges of possessing drugs for trafficking and possessing the proceeds of crime.

Crown prosecutor Dave Inglis was preparing to call his first witness, a member of the Red Deer City RCMP, when defence counsel observed numerous freezer bags to be included in the evidence and learned that forensic investigators had not checked them for fingerprints.

After consulting with Inglis, Sproule asked the court for a one-day adjournment to give an RCMP forensics specialist time to determine whether there were any viable fingerprints on any of the bags.

Sisson granted the adjournment, noting Goddard’s comment concerning the detrimental impact on his client, who is in custody, if the discovery of fingerprints were to cause further delay in the trial proceedings.

Whether the trial moves ahead as scheduled will depend on what the forensics expert finds in checking the bags for fingerprints.

Sproule said there will be plenty of time to finish the trial if there are no further delays as a result of the forensics expert’s examination.

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