It’s hard enough, most days, for police to make a case stick in court. That job is even harder when a case is intentionally undermined by an allegedly corrupt cop.
Welcome to the story of alleged heroin dealer Siavash Norouzian, undercover Toronto Police Service Detective Constable Daryl Gazey and data from a few of cell phones.
It’s a story which, through a series of odd circumstances nobody could foresee, spans almost eight years and ultimately ended with Justice Anne London-Weinstein dismissing all charges against Siavash Norouzian, while ripping Det. Constable Daryl Gazey for “not being honest with the court.”
Disputed Timeline of Events
On October 23, 2013, Gazey supposedly called Siavash Norouzian’s phone at 4:20pm. He testified to this during Norouzian’s trial for heroin trafficking in May of 2018.
Defence counsel introduced forensic evidence from two or more cell phones that contradicted Gazey’s testimony. (How many phones is never clarified in the transcript of R. v. Norouzian, 2018 ONSC 5998 and the February 2020 decision to acquit Siavash Norouzian is not yet available on CANLII.org.)
This is where the trial heads off into some deep legal weeds.
“The result was that the data dump provided by this expert raised serious issues identified by the crown in relation to the reliability of the evidence,” wrote Justice London-Weinstein.
The century old rule in Browne v Dunn requires that if counsel intends to present evidence contradictory to a witness’s testimony as part of his or her argument, he or she must put this version of events to the witness during cross-examination.
Since Detective Gazey refused to testify, retired and fled the country, he could not be brought before the court to explain the discrepancy between his sworn testimony and the evidence from the cell phones.
“I found Detective Constable Gazey to be not credible as a witness.”
- Detective Constable Gazey ignored the subpoena to come back to court and be cross-examined.
- He retired from the Toronto Police Service after 31 years of service.
- He moved to Italy.
While I can’t say he moved out of Canadian jurisdiction specifically because of this case, the fact he ignored a subpoena and moved to Italy does not reflect well on his character.
“Gazey, whose credibility was so central in this case, never did return to trial,” said Justice London-Weinstein.
“Instead, he retired from the Toronto Police Service and travelled to Italy instead of returning to face questions regarding forensic phone evidence.”
“Many of the remaining questions surrounding the disparities between the forensic evidence versus the evidence of the officer remain unanswered.”
Adding to the integrity issues facing the Toronto Police service is the fact that Sgt. Sean Sutton, who also arrested Norouzian, lost his notes about the investigation, failed to report the loss of his notes, and wrote an investigative report two years after Norouzian’s arrest.
While the judge said she found it was “probable” Norouzian had some involvement in a drug trafficking operation, her “suspicions are not the test in law. I must be sure before I can find Mr. Norouzian guilty. Given my concerns about the credibility of Detective Constable Gazey, I am not satisfied that Mr. Norouzian is guilty.”
Justice Anne London-Weinstein acquitted Siavash Norouzian of all charges.
He is now a free man.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this case in the comments section below.