29 convictions, bail granted

A Penticton man with 29 prior convictions and facing up to a decade in prison was granted bail Thursday.

Kevin Walter-Hughes, 39, is facing seven firearms and possession of stolen property charges related to an arrest in the parking lot of the downtown Victory Church on August 29.

Police received a report of an argument between two groups of men in the church parking lot shortly before 1 p.m.

Walter-Hughes was behind the wheel of a car that didn't match its license plate, leading officers to question the accused. He told them he recently bought the car and produced transfer papers.

At that point, police noticed several used needles on the floor of the car, a knife between the door and seat and an unlabelled prescription pill bottle.

Walter-Hughes was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, and the police conducted a more thorough search of the vehicle.

Drug paraphernalia, small bags and a scale were found on one of the passengers, while a 12-gauge shotgun with the safety off and shell in the chamber was found in the trunk.

He had been issued lifetime firearms bans on two previous occasions. His 29 convictions, mostly for drugs, guns and some violence, date back to 2001.

The car also contained a valet key and driver's license stolen from from two vehicles earlier in the summer.

“This is not a slam dunk as the Crown would like you to think,” defence lawyer James Pennington countered.

He said his client was helping a friend move at the time, and learned of the shotgun when the police arrested him for it.

“Because there is a pill bottle in the car, and they don't see a label on it — well the Crown is going to have a hard time at trial making this stick, because right away, you’ve got issues with arbitrary detention and unlawful arrest.

“No grounds for an arrest, no grounds to search,” he said, arguing the stolen property could be linked to one of the passengers in the vehicle.  

Walter-Hughes has a job as a tradesman in Kelowna, which would keep him busy if released, Pennington added.

Judge Meg Shaw ended up granting the bail, on a $3,000 assurance with a $1,500 cash deposit. Walter-Hughes will be required to abide by a curfew and stay out of contact with the men involved in the parking lot argument.

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