Cocaine dealer’s case dismissed due to 3.5-year delay

Re-posted from The Canadian Press

Date: Thursday Sep. 15, 2011 8:52 PM ET

VANCOUVER — A Prince George, B.C., cocaine dealer has been allowed to walk away from his conviction because it took almost four years to bring the case to trial and finish it.

In a scathing ruling, provincial court Judge Michael Brecknell notes there are fewer judges now than in 2005 and more than half the cases pending are taking too long to complete.

Joseph Hammer was convicted last August of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking after he was captured in a coke-for-guns police sting.

But Hammer was arrested in October 2007, and his trial was put off three times.

After he was finally convicted, he argued the charges should be stayed because his constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable time was violated.

In a decision released Wednesday, Brecknell agreed, saying even though Hammer is a convicted drug dealer who has been charged in similar offences while this case wound through the courts, he is entitled to the protection of his rights.

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