By Glenda Luymes
A B.C. provincial court judge has indicated he will declare a mistrial in the eagle poaching case against two First Nations men.
Gary Abbott and Ralph Leon were among 11 men charged with a total of 105 offences related to the unlawful possession of dead wildlife, trafficking in dead wildlife and other related offences. The charges, laid in April 2006, came after a 15-month Conservation Officer Service investigation that began with the discovery of 50 dead eagles in North Vancouver.
On Thursday, Abbott and Leon were pleased to hear about the mistrial. The judge will outline his reasons for the decision on Nov. 25, but indicated it related to a disclosure issue.
Defense lawyer George Wool has argued Abbott and Leon were tricked into handling eagle feathers in an elaborate sting involving conservation officers who were native or pretended to be native.
Sto:lo Tribal Council Grand Chief Doug Kelly has said in the past that undercover officers pretended to want to walk down “the red road,” a spiritual reference for turning their lives around. Kelly said they asked the accused to provide them with ceremonial headdresses with eagle feathers for the process.
Wool also argued Crown counsel knew that the lead conservation officer on the case, Rick Grindrod, was under investigation for misusing his government credit cards when he testified. Grindrod was eventually charged with fraud.
The case has been winding its way through the court system over the last seven years, with many of the men tried separately. More....