R v Bjornson, 2018 Alberta Court Of Appeal – Conviction Overturned, Other Reasonable Inferences As To Possession Of Drugs In Car


Appeal from conviction for possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking. Appellant was arrested after a vehicle stop when police discovered that the vehicle he was driving was unregistered and had a stolen licence plate. Police found drugs and paraphernalia in a sunglass case inside the cupholder following a vehicle search. Issues on appeal surrounding the finding that the accused was in constructive possession of the drugs.

Held: Appeal allowed; acquittal.

Crown’s case in establishing possession of the drugs was circumstantial, thus a judge must be satisfied that “the inference of guilt is the only reasonable inference that the circumstantial evidence permits”: Villaroman, 2016 SCC 33. Here, “the gaps in the evidence, together with the evidence that someone other than Mr. Bjornson owned the vehicle, make available innocent inferences about Mr. Bjornson’s knowledge of the drugs that are reasonable in the sense that they arise from the application of human experience and common sense to the evidence as a whole.” Trial judge’s finding of possession was not supportable.

J. Craig – Defence Counsel