The Ontario Court of Appeal rejected this appeal by Wing Kwong Lee, whose home had been ordered forfeit after a large marijuana grow operation had been discovered there.
Mr. Lee claimed that he had purchased the home as an investment for his teenaged daughter, and in the meantime rented it to a man who he knew only as “Stephen.” This tenant paid the rent in cash and Mr. Lee claimed he did not know how to reach him. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice rejected this submission and ordered forfeiture of the home. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision, stating that the trial judge’s findings were reasonable and there was no reason to interfere.
Despite the seemingly doubtful nature of Mr. Lee’s story, no criminal charges were ever laid against him in connection with the marijuana grow op. This case demonstrates that in situations where there is little evidence of criminal activity but the accused does not have a strong explanation to the contrary, the Crown can circumvent many of a person’s legal rights by simply seeking forfeiture of his or her property.
Decided by the Ontario Court of Appeal on June 2, 2011.
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