Oliver marijuana bust goes to trial

Two people allegedly connected to a 980-plant marijuana grow-op discovered on a rural property near Oliver are on trial.

Two people allegedly connected to a 980-plant marijuana grow-op discovered on a rural residential property near Oliver are on trial this week in Penticton.

Jessica Stelkia and Blaine Vickers are each charged with production of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Vickers faces an additional charge of fraudulent consumption of electricity.

The plants were discovered in a detached garage on a property on Green Lake Road following a police raid on Feb. 13, 2013,  according to an agreed statement of facts read by Crown counsel Ashleigh Baylis at the start of trial Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court.

The first witness, Oliver RCMP Const. Joseph Bayda, testified that police began an investigation into activities at the property after being alerted by an employee of FortisBC to possible electricity theft there.

He said police later obtained and executed a search warrant and disccovered an underground electricity meter bypass on the site, along with the marijuana plants and growing equipment inside a closed-off portion of the three-bay garage.

Bayda said he arrested Stelkia inside a home on the property during the raid. She was the only person there and pointed out the keys to the garage. Police also found two uninsured vehicles on the property that were registered to Vickers, who wasn’t arrested until September 2013.

Neither accused owned the home, although the power bill was in Vickers’ name, according to the agreed statement of facts.

The trial is scheduled to continue through Thursday.

Baylis said she intends to call four police witnesses and the civilian electrician who inspected the electricity meter bypass.