On February 20, 2020, Justice Timothy Lipson acquitted Jermaine Barrows-Taylor of all firearm-related charges, but accepted his guilty plea for drug trafficking.
At the time of his arrest for a violation of the Highway Traffic Act on August 26, 2018, Jermaine Barrows-Taylor was under a Firearms Prohibition Order and his driver’s licence was revoked.
When Toronto Police Service Constables Daniel and Gill searched the vehicle driven by Barrows-Taylor (his mother’s) “incident to arrest” they discovered:
- A collection of ziplock baggies containing cocaine
- $300 in cash
- A black bag containing a loaded Kel Tec P-11semi-automatic handgun (Prohibited handgun) with the serial number removed and 13 additional rounds of 9mm ammuntion
Constables Daniel and Gill charged Jermaine Barrows-Taylor with a host of drug and gun offences, including possession of a firearm and ammunition contrary to a prohibition order.
Jermaine Barrows-Taylor pleaded guilty before Justice Timothy Lipson to a charge of Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking, but not guilty to several firearms-related offences.
While it was likely, even highly probable, the illegal gun belonged to Jermaine Barrows-Taylor, the arresting officers made one critical mistake.
They failed to investigate the possibility the illegal handgun belonged to anyone except Barrows-Taylor.
The two other occupants of the vehicle were detained and charged for possession of cocaine, but were released after Barrows-Taylor said the drugs were his because P.C. Gill felt there was no reason “to continue the arrests”.
 Of course, it is likely, even highly likely, that the black bag and its contents belonged to Mr. Barrows-Taylor. He was the driver. The bag with the gun and ammunition was under his seat. He admitted he was in possession of the drugs and that the possession was for the purpose of trafficking. It is an accepted fact of life that drug traffickers often possess guns to protect themselves and their drug supply. Moreover, the accused’s belt was unbuckled and his pants partially down. One could infer that he had just removed and hidden something- maybe the drugs, maybe the gun, maybe both- near or under the back of the driver’s seat.
 However, the police investigation was incomplete in a crucial way. Other potential suspects who were in a position to place the gun under the driver’s seat were not eliminated. As a result, the Crown was unable to negative other reasonable possibilities consistent with the innocence of the accused. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt requires that the Crown be able to do so. That was not done in this case. A reasonable doubt can result from the absence of evidence which is the case here.
 Mr. Barrows-Taylor will have the benefit of that reasonable doubt. In the result, he will be found not guilty of the firearms-related offences, but guilty of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
What do you think?
Is Justice Timothy Lipson’s ruling correct? Did Constable Daniel and Constable Gill screw up?
Or did another career drug dealer get a total pass for possessing an illegal handgun?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.