Confusion over credit cards enough for acquittalPolice found stolen credit cards in man's dashboard
A boyfriend’s claim he didn’t know about stolen credit cards hidden in his car’s dashboard, along with the girlfriend’s admission she had put them there, were enough to convince a judge to throw out charges Friday.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jeanne Watchuk acquitted Daniel Maskwa of possession of stolen credit cards, saying the evidence raised a reasonable doubt about whether he knew the items had been stashed in his car.
Maskwa was charged after Kamloops RCMP found the cards during a search of his vehicle Jan. 13, 2010. Officers stopped him because they believed he was linked to a different fraudulent credit card transaction caught by a convenience store security camera three weeks before.
When they searched his vehicle, officers found two stolen cards, each of them altered and imprinted with new names, along with a small amount of crystal meth and a smoking pipe in a sunglass case tucked into electrical wires behind a coin tray in the dashboard.
At his trial, Maskwa testified he knew nothing about the credit cards, the glasses case or the drugs, and had no idea how they got there.
Maskwa’s girlfriend Brandy Jones, on the other hand, told the court she had put the cards and drugs there, as she was trying to hide them from everyone, including her boyfriend. Jones told the court she didn’t want anyone to know she was using drugs. She was in the car when Maskwa was arrested, although she was not charged.
Jones’s evidence can’t be used against her in another trial.
Justice Watchuk said while it’s clear Maskwa had “care and control” of the vehicle, the court can’t be certain he knew about the stolen cards. He was not charged with possession of the drugs.
Earlier in the trial, the judge ruled the RCMP did not have the right to search Maskwa’s car without a warrant as they did when they stopped him the night of his arrest.
Even though Watchuk ruled the search unreasonable, however, she allowed the credit cards to be entered as evidence in the trial since officers did not act in bad faith at the time.