Police chief explains loss of cocaine evidence
Windsor police are admitting they lost $25,000 worth of cocaine evidence from their vault inside headquarters.
It’s a revelation that only came to light during a judge’s verdict in a court case earlier this month.
Miles Meraw was convicted of drug trafficking on March 10, even though the judge is very critical of police for losing nine ounces of cocaine.
The Chief of Police is reassuring the public Friday that it’s a rare mistake to accidentally destroy nine ounces of cocaine and one they have fully investigated.
With the the bulk of the evidence against Meraw gone, his lawyer is seriously considering an appeal.
“It’s disappointing the court would ignore obvious neglect on the part of the police,” said Ken Marley, lawyer for 30-year-old Meraw, who is convicted of drug trafficking.
Marley argued at trial that the loss of nine ounces of cocaine by police was grounds for acquittal.
“If you want to establish that somebody was in possession, in 2013, you've got to present to the court in 2017 what it was that he was in possession. Their inability to do that, was, in my view, a break in the continuity of the drugs,” Marley said.
In her ruling, Justice Pamela Hebner addressed the lost evidence saying there was no explanation as to what happened to the substance. Apparently, its fate was never determined. She went on to say certainly something went awry, but the police cannot say how or why.
“I believe the words she used was terribly troubled, which is pretty strong language from a judge," Marley said.
Regardless, because Meraw was heard on a wire tap detailing the drug exchange and because police did have a sample of the evidence, proving it to be cocaine, Hebner found Meraw guilty.
Windsor’s Chief of Police Al Frederick used Friday’s police services board meeting as an opportunity to admit to the mistake and explain it.
“Nine ounces would be about, well, the size of my hands, full of cocaine. It’s a lot of cocaine.
The chief says the drugs were seized on Aug. 21, 2013.
On September 5, an officer took a sample to send to Health Canada to prove it was cocaine. When the sample came back in late October, the officer attempted to place the sample back with the rest of the cocaine. But he found it was gone. It was reported to superiors who audited the drug vault.
“It was by accident. It got mixed up with another case. There’s 168 cases going into a big huge bin and they pulled something off the shelf and destroyed it without it being ear marked for destruction. That’s the whole key we're talking about.”
The chief says the evidence vaults now have 12 additional surveillance cameras.
Miles Meraw will have a sentencing hearing on June 1. He can't appeal until after he's sentenced.