Oshawa man with cocaine escapes jail after police error

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Alex Kurial/Local Journalism Initiative

“I’m just going to tell you – you got lucky.”
That from Justice Christopher Bondy to Ahmed Sardar as the Oshawa man escaped a cocaine trafficking charge in Sarnia Superior Court.
Sardar, 26, instead plead to a simple possession charge Nov. 20, despite being found with more than 150 grams of cocaine during a July drug bust last year.
He landed a conditional sentence rather than lengthy imprisonment because of procedural errors the night of his arrest.
Sardar had been under investigation by Sarnia’s Vice Unit. After receiving tips from informants and through Crime Stoppers, police determined they had enough evidence to bring charges.
On the night of July 12, 2019 officers followed Sardar as he and a woman made three drug deals in Canatara Park.
He was arrested immediately, around 9 pm.
A search of Sardar found six grams of cocaine, a large amount of cash and two cell phones.
Officers then applied for a warrant to search the Michigan Ave. home Sardar was living in. They received one at 12:50 am and entered the home.
Sardar was renting a room in the house where police found 145 grams of cocaine, cash, a weighing scale and brass knuckles.
The Crown’s problem prosecuting the case related to Sardar’s treatment after being taken into custody.
Between his arrest around 9 pm and the issuing of the warrant nearly four hours later, Sardar wasn’t given the opportunity to contact a lawyer.
Police said they thought other people in the house might destroy evidence if they learned Sardar had been arrested.
Section 10(b) of the Criminal Code states anyone placed under arrest must be given the opportunity “to retain and instruct counsel without delay…”
Crown Attorney Michael Robb says while officers’ failure to do this was inadvertent, “It certainly goes to the heart of the right to counsel.”
Bondy agreed, but made it clear to Sardar it’s only because of this error he’s staying out of prison.
“Under other circumstances, the conditions that you were caught under – most particularly the quantity of drugs – would warrant a significant jail term,” says Bondy.
“I want to make it absolutely clear that there’s no suggestion here that this would otherwise be a fit sentence, other than these very, very unique circumstances. You would be going to prison for a significant length of time. And that’s not a comfortable place,” says Bondy.
“I very strongly recommend that you seek assistance… to ensure that you don’t wind up back in this situation.”
Sardar was sentenced to one year house arrest in Oshawa. He must spend the first six months under full house arrest, take counselling for substance abuse, and cannot leave Ontario.