A destitiute farmer whose only asset is a condemned shack can use cash that the Crown alleges are crime proceeds to pay for his defence, a judge ruled yesterday.
Justice Jack Waite granted an application by an accused marijuana grower to have $5,950 in seized money placed in his lawyer’s trust account.
The money was a seized by RCMP officers under proceeds of crime legislation during a Jan. 26, 1998, raid on a southeast Calgary home.
The accused, 33 told Waite he needs the money to pay defence lawyer Patrick Fagan to handle his upcoming trial on 10 charges – including cultivating marijuana.
The Saskatchewan farmer said he has been unemployed since he was forced to sell personal property in 1997 to cover various bank loans.
The $11,000 he cleared in that sale, plus another $30,000 he received from the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, went to living expenses, “an expensive gilfriend” and a bad real estate purchase.
“I bought a house” in Weldon, Sask., he told Crown prosecutor Scott Couper.
“’It was condemned by the health board as unfit for human habitation,” he said of the home for which he paid $3,200.
Over the past six months, he’s been living on social assistance in Saskatoon, even needing welfare to fund his bus trip for his Calgary court appearance.
The accused’s application is believed to be only the second time in Alberta that alleged proceeds of crime have been freed for defence expenses.
His trial is scheduled for Dec. 14 and 15.