The trial of Alex Louie, also known as Senklip, over gun smuggling charges began Monday morning, and is expected to run through the week.                                (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

The trial of Alex Louie, also known as Senklip, over gun smuggling charges began Monday morning, and is expected to run through the week. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

Lack of lawyer causes roadblocks in trial

Presiding justice halted Alex Louie, also known as Senk’lip, in his tracks several times Wednesday

Day three of a trial over alleged gun smuggling hit roadblocks throughout Wednesday morning, as the accused toed a line of questioning the presiding justice found problematic.

Alex Louie, also known as Senk’lip, is facing nine charges related to an incident early in the morning on Feb. 1 this year, when he allegedly attempted to bring two handguns across the border near Osoyoos.

During his cross-examination of Crown witness Courtney Inch, a Canada Border Services Agency officer, Justice Arne Silverman stopped Senk’lip short when he attempted a line of questioning regarding some documents, sending the jury out of the room.

Related: Justice rules B.C. courts hold jurisdiction over Indigenous man

The courtroom entered a voir dire hearing, the details of which are covered by a publication ban.

“You all know that Senk’lip is not a lawyer, so there’s no negativity whatsoever to be thought of the fact that I sent you out to determine what ultimately was a legal issue,” Silverman said after bringing the jury back into the courtroom.

“I’ve made a decision, and there won’t be any further questions relating to those two documents.”

Proceedings continued to stagger from there, and Silverman stopped Senk’lip in his tracks once again just minutes later, when he asked her for her interpretation of a section of the Criminal Code of Canada.

“You’re asking her to interpret the law. She doesn’t have the expertise that courts of the law have long said witnesses need,” Silverman said.

Related: Alleged gun smuggler’s name disputed

Though Senk’lip was unable to ask Inch about her interpretation of the law, Silverman reminded him he would be able to bring forth his own interpretation at the end of the trial.

Senk’lip also ran into issues later on, when he began addressing the jury directly during cross-examination.

After Inch’s testimony, acting Superintendent Cecilia Christian with the CBSA spoke to her point of view of the early hours of Feb. 1 at the Osoyoos border crossing, with questions from Crown lawyer Clarke Burnett.

Related: Man charged with smuggling handguns across Osoyoos border

Christian said she stood back and let Inch take the lead when it came to interacting with Senk’lip prior to searching the vehicle.

Both Christian and Inch searched the vehicle from front to back, finding nothing of note until they came upon what was suspected to be a handgun magazine in the trunk of the vehicle.

“It had an orange component on it, and I wasn’t convinced it was a real magazine, necessarily,” Christian said. “But it was enough for me to think ‘why would there be this, even if it was fake, this magazine sitting in the back of the vehicle?’”

After seeing that, Christian said she decided to do a more thorough search of the main cabin of the vehicle.

Related: Courtroom rabble rouser granted internet access in jail

Christian said she searched deep into the console area under the driver’s wheel with her flashlight, and saw something shiny sticking out.

“I started picking at it and realized that it wasn’t part of the vehicle, and it was a plastic bag,” she said. “I kept pulling on it until it came out from where it was tucked in, and out came trigger locks for handguns.”

She said she knew it was trigger locks because of a booklet that was in the bag with the trigger locks. Deeper still, Christian said she found a pair of boxes containing handgun ammunition, and that was when Senk’lip was detained and his rights read to him.

Trial for Senk’lip is expected to last the week.

Related: Man calls for judge’s arrest, gets trial date


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

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