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ISSUE

Should the doctrine of wilful blindness apply here?

HELD

No. Appeal allowed; Currie acquitted.

RATIO

The doctrine of constructive knowledge has no application in criminal law.

NOTES

Wilful blindness is only applicable when a suspicion arises and a person omits to make further inquiries.  That is not the case here.  Currie was never suspicious. Perhaps Currie “ought to have known” but this does not constitute knowledge for the purpose of criminal liability.

R. v. Blondin (1971) 2 C.C.C. (2d) 118 (B.C. C.A.)

FACTS

Blondin was charged with importing cannabis resin into Canada in the tank of a scuba-diving outfit. The cops asked Blondin if he knew what was in the tank.  Blondin said he didn’t know what it was but he knew it was illegal. The trial judge instructed the jury that in order to find Blondin guilty, they had to find that he knew the substance in the tank was hashish.

ISSUES

Did the trial judge err in his instruction to the jury?

HELD

Yes. Crown’s appeal allowed; new trial ordered.

RATIO

The trial judge should have informed the jury that they might convict if they found that Blondin had been reckless or wilfully blind to what the substance was and then drew the inference that Blondin suspected that it might be a narcotic.  

R. v. Sandhu (1989) 50 C.C.C. (3d) 492 (Ont. C.A.)

FACTS

Sandhu was convicted of importing heroin and possessing it for the purpose of trafficking.  He possessed about a pound in all in his luggage (sewn into the lining of clothes) and in his wallet.  He claimed a woman with whom he was infatuated in India had access to his wallet and packed his bags, etc.

ISSUE

Did the trial judge err in his instruction to the jury?

HELD

Yes. Appeal allowed; new trial ordered.

RATIO

The judge should have also instructed the jury to consider whether or not Sandhu honestly believed (subjective element of recklessness) in what the person who packed his bags did, despite the belief being unreasonable (objective element).

NOTES

The judge, in informing the jury about the doctrine of recklessness, only informed them about its objective element and not the subjective element.

R. v. Duong (1998) 124 C.C.C. (3d) 392 (Ont. C.A.)

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