The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction of a man found guilty of marijuana production and trafficking in connection with a “massive” grow operation found in Mission in 2012.
Ylber Tahirsylaj had been arrested at the grow-op, in a rural area of Mission, after members of the Emergency Response Team for the Lower Mainland executed a search warrant and found 1,152 plants in three rooms in an outbuilding next to a home on the property. Police also found a hydro bypass.
In 2013, Tahirsylaj was found guilty of production of marijuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and fraudulent consumption of electricity, but he appealed his conviction, arguing that Crown had not proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Before executing the search warrant, a police officer had observed Tahirsylaj walking a dog on the property, and entering and leaving the outbuilding where the grow-op was discovered. He was also seen yelling at a young girl in a manner the officer interpreted was meant to send the girl away from the outbuilding.
Tahirsylaj did not live at the home, but his brother was also seen emerging from the house to help him wash a rug taken from the house.
Later, officers found a fingerprint belonging to Tahirsylaj on a BC Hydro electric meter that had been disconnected and stashed under an old towel inside the outbuilding. Police found an unregistered stolen meter had been attached to a pole.
The trial judge said he was “satisfied that the accused had knowledge of the grow operation. One would have knowledge when one is inside of that building; it is a massive grow operation.”
He said the observed actions of Tahirsylaj on the property are consistent with someone with control of the operation. Tahirsylaj appealed, saying that the verdicts were “unreasonable and not supported by the evidence.”
But the three justices who heard the appeal all disagreed.
In her published reasons, Justice Elizabeth Bennett said that “while the evidence is not overwhelming, the whole of the evidence is sufficient to found each of the verdicts in this case.” She continued: “the role of this Court is not to reweigh and reassess the evidence… Rather, our role is to determine whether the conclusion of the trial judge went beyond the ‘limit of reasonableness’ defined by the evidence. In my respectful opinion, it did not.”