An Ontario court judge has thrown out an impaired driving charge after he says the accused’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated because a Global TV news camera was present when he was charged.

Justice David S. Rose handed down the verdict last week after a three-day trial in July and August.

Kunal Gautam was pulled over by York Regional Police on May 6, 2016 and arrested for impaired driving. On that night, Global News was invited to a “ride-along” with police to show the public just how much of a problem impaired driving continues to be. Gautum was shown in the story, which aired on Global News, being taken into custody and blowing into a breathalyzer.

Officers said Gautum blew over the legal limit. At the scene, he denied being intoxicated and said he was not guilty.

At trial, Gautum testified that while he was on the phone with his lawyer inside the mobile police truck, a TV camera was filming him at close range. He said that “impeded” his contact with duty counsel. The judge agreed Gautum’s “right to counsel was violated” because Gautum believed that the call was no longer private.

The judge threw out the breath test as evidence.

“Mr. Gautam was entitled to have his investigation completed without the public scrutinizing the procedure, which in some measure is what happened,” Justice Rose said.

In Justice Rose’s decision, he said York Regional Police “had complete control and were responsible for conduct, inside the (RIDE) truck on the night of Mr. Gautum’s arrest.”

Rose criticized police for giving too much access to the TV camera. He said “the legal consequences fall at the feet of police.”

York Regional Police (YRP) issued a statement saying the media ride-alongs were set up to show the public just how much of a problem impaired driving continues to be. YRP said it “respects the decision” made by the courts.

“Since that time, corporate communications has made changes in policy to ensure media is more closely supervised while on ride-alongs.”

Ron Waksman, Vice-President of Digital and Editorial Standards and Practices for Global News and Corus Radio, stands by the story. He said it illustrates the job police do.

“Our journalists are trained to balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know,” he said.

 “It’s absolutely critical that the media preserve this function of maintaining transparency of due process and the legal system in this country, otherwise how will the public have confidence in the courts if we don’t do that?”

Gautum’s lawyer Ken Anders told Global News his client is not interested in talking about the verdict. Anders said he was “humiliated” by the story.

Anders said “Justice Rose did an excellent and thoughtful analysis of the evidence and decided it was in the best long term interest of justice to exclude the evidence.”

He would not say if his client is back behind the wheel.

Source: Global News


Last updated on: 2017-10-01 | Link to this post