A Surrey home renter was acquitted on three pot-related charges after judge decided the Crown had not proved the accused knew about the grow-operation in its basement. (Photo: Max Pixel)

Judge finds Surrey renter didn’t know about pot grow in basement

Raafat Badr acquitted of growing marijuana, possession for purpose of trafficking, electricity theft

Upstairs, downstairs.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found a Surrey man not guilty of growing marijuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking or theft of electricity after finding the Crown hadn’t proven that the accused knew what was going on in the basement of a house he’d been renting at 17373 100th Ave. in Fraser Heights.

Acting on a search warrant and armed with a battering ram, police found a “sophisticated” marijuana grow-op with 237 plants which, if sold in pounds, would have a street value of about $52,000.

The case was heard in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

“Dealing with the charge of theft of electricity was relatively straightforward,” Justice Peter Leask noted in his reasons for decision.

“It took an expert to locate the bypass. No consumer reading the hydro bill would see anything abnormal — that’s the whole purpose of the bypass. There was no evidence that the accused knew anything about it. I found him not guilty.”

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The judge noted that the Crown’s case was circumstantial as it related to the charge of producing marijuana.

“The Crown’s case is circumstantial,” he found. “The accused rents the house and lives upstairs. The Crown asks me to draw the inference that he must know of the existence of the grow-op in the basement.”

But Leask had a reasonable doubt that the accused, Raafat Badr, knew of the grow-op, noting a “caretaker” could have entered an exterior door to the basement to look after the grow-op without ever having to pass through the front door, which seven Surrey RCMP officers had broken open using a steel ram on Feb. 20, 2013.

“The Crown presented no evidence that the accused had ever been in the basement; no belongings of his; no fingerprints; nothing whatesoever,” Leask noted. “The police evidence was that the upstairs was relatively neat and tidy. In the basement, there was a bathroom with fecal material in the toilet. I believe that leads to the reasonable inference that some person other than the accused frequented the basement and used the toilet.”

Leask found Badr not guilty on all three counts.

tom.zytaruk@ surreynowleader.com