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Kelowna  

Sheriff's charges challenged

A recent constitutional ruling in a Surrey child luring case could impact a Kelowna case in which a Kamloops’ sheriff is charged with luring a person posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Kevin Johnston is facing three charges stemming from a Creep Hunters' sting in August 2016 in which a woman posed as an underage girl.

Johnston met the Creep Hunter on Craigslist, and the two exchanged text messages for several days. The conversation turned sexual, and naked pictures were sent.

A video posted online shows the Creep Hunters meeting a person they claim is Johnston in Kelowna, after arranging a meet-up with the purported 14-year-old.

On Tuesday, Johnston’s defence argued Justice Michelle Daneliuk should adopt a ruling made in the Dario Devic case, a similar Creep Catchers sting on a Surrey RCMP officer.

On Jan. 30, Justice Sutherland found a subsection of Canada’s child luring law violates an accused's presumption of innocence. Both the Crown and defence in Johnston's case agreed this ruling should be adopted for their case, as the circumstances and subsequent arguments are similar.

Daneliuk plans to make a decision in the next couple of weeks. While a ruling in the defence's favour wouldn't end the Crown's case, it would be forced to prove Johnston believed the person he was messaging was in fact underage.

The legislation in question, enacted in 2002, states that if a person represents themselves as underage, it's up to the accused to prove they didn't believe the person they were talking to was underage.

This isn't the only constitutional issue in Johnston's case. On April 20, Johnston's defence will argue that Johnston's text messages should be protected from “unreasonable search and seizure,” as guaranteed in Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Johnston is scheduled to face trial in May.



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