Convicted Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler has successfully appealed his conviction in the province’s highest court.
The written decision by the BC Court of Appeal released on Aug. 27 did not order a stay of proceedings as Eheler asked for, rather he will face a new trial.
Eheler and co-accused Mathew Thiessen were caught with nine kilograms of cocaine they were processing in a Chilliwack condo on Nov. 18, 2014. Eheler was convicted of cocaine trafficking and sentenced to more than eight years in prison in November 2019.
Eheler and Thiessen appealed arguing they faced an unreasonable delay pursuant to section 11(b) of the Charter. They asked for the charges to be dropped or for a new trial because the judge did not release reasons for judgment until more than three years after the ruling.
“The appellants argue that a reasonable person would apprehend that the reasons constitute an after-the-fact justification for the result rather than an articulation of the reasoning that led to it,” Justice Gregory Fitch wrote in the summary on behalf of the three BC Court of Appeal judges. “They submit that the reasons must be disregarded. In the absence of reasons and an opportunity for meaningful appellate review of the correctness of the standing ruling, the appellants submit that a new trial must follow.”
That was the argument made by the defence, and the appeal court agreed.
”The judge did not err by concluding that the appellants’ right to be tried within a reasonable time had not been breached. A reasonable person would, however, apprehend that the reasons in support of the standing ruling do not reflect the reasoning process that led to the pronouncement of judgment three years earlier.”
Eheler is out of custody as he was granted bail in the B.C. Court of Appeal on Oct. 8, 2020 in part because Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten accepted defence submissions that his health was at risk in the correctional facility where he was housed. He had tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered.
Eheler has an extensive criminal record with more than 40 convictions dating back to 1995. He has connections to the Hells Angels and is a former associate of the Bacon Brothers.
No date has been set for a new trial.
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