R v Hunter, [2011] OJ No 4120 (ON Ct J)

The applicant, Hunter, brought an application requesting (a) all evidence gathered during the October 14th and 15th, 2010 search of his property be excluded; (b) all orders of the OSPCA subsequent to that search be declared null and void; (c) all other evidence gathered during that search be excluded; (d) costs be awarded to him on this matter.

During the afternoon of October 14th, 2010, an OSPCA inspector received information advising him that animals were in distress on the property of the applicant. The inspector conducted a warrantless search of Mr. Hunter’s private property at noon on the following day, October the 15th, 2010, accompanied by a veterinarian.

The usual and expected practice is for inspectors to seek judicial authorization before entering a person’s home or property. However, an inspector may enter a building or place without warrant where there is an animal in “immediate distress.” There was no evidence before the court that there was a situation of immediate distress. The court concluded that a breach occurred.

In regard to the evidence, the court stated that it must consider what a reasonable and informed public, knowing the relevant facts of the case, would conclude when faced with both of these legitimate and important concerns, namely: the prosecution of animal welfare cases and the reasonable expectation of the privacy of one’s home and property.

The court determined that the breach was serious and significant and that the admission of evidence obtained by the breach would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Therefore, the court ordered that all evidence be excluded, that all orders issued arising from this search be declared null and void, that all other evidence arising from the search be excluded.

Source: Case Law

Jurisdiction: Ontario

Topics: applicationdistressevidencesearchSPCAwarrant

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