Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Letter: Time for a shakeup of the legal system

Penticton resident believes it is time to put pressure on the Attorney General’s office

After three recent crimes were committed (sorry, alleged crimes), and no charges laid in any of them, it is time for a severe shakeup of our legal system.

In mid August, Mount Baldy had a theft occur during the night of a side by side ATV. Still security photos clearly show Penticton’s biggest serial thief and his girlfriend at the scene, along with a third party who I do not recognize. I contacted Oliver RCMP and informed them of the names of the two individuals in the photos. No charges laid; insufficient evidence.

About two weeks ago, in Kelowna, a man had his car stolen (along with his wallet). Within 30 minutes, liquor store security video shows two men using the stolen credit card to purchase alcohol. The store clerk says she sees them all the time at the park next to the store. The police tell the victim that an arrest could be made, however, because of the time and cost involved, nothing would “probably” happen. No arrests, no charges. At what point were the RCMP given the discretion of deciding which cases are too costly or time consuming, or which ones will or will not see a courtroom?

On Thursday, Sept. 28, it was reported that three males were walking with firearms on Winnipeg Street in Penticton. Officers found two of the individuals, and it was determined to be a paintball gun. However, the two males were found to be in possession of live ammunition while under strict orders not to possess firearms or ammunition. No charges laid because of, get this, lack of evidence. Apparently it did not meet the minimum criteria to proceed with charges. Let me see now, not supposed to have ammo, but you are caught red handed with ammo. Exactly what else would the minimum criteria have to include to proceed with a charge?

I phoned the regional office in Kelowna to ask to speak to someone about filing a complaint against the office in Penticton (regarding the case that occurred on Winnipeg Street) and I received a response from Crown counsel office at noon Friday, Oct. 6, but they declined to comment on any of the cases unless I had specific court file numbers. They claim not to know anything about what occurred on Sept. 28 on Winnipeg Street, although it was reported in the media that Crown declined to press charges. Someone is not being honest.

Some people I have spoken with blame the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Well guess what folks? It is a publication, not the bible. It can be amended if something is not working the way it was intended. It is up to the politicians to get off their collective behinds and fix what is wrong with an obviously faulted system, where criminals get all the rights, and victims get none.

I think it is about time that Dan Ashton and/or Richard Cannings step in and start sniffing around to see what the hell is going on. Maybe they can put a little pressure on the Attorney General’s office to get on with their job and push for change.

Personally I think that this is some warped form of job security for the lawyers and judges. Kick ‘em loose if at all possible; they’ll be back in court in short order. I also believe if theft under $5,000 is not going to be prosecuted, then maybe we can get rid of three or so RCMP officers and one or two staff at the Crown counsel’s office and save the taxpayers a little cash.

This is absolutely unacceptable. Period.

Mark Billesberger

Penticton