Omar Black v. Her Majesty the Queen

(Ontario) (Criminal) (As of Right)


Criminal law - Criminal law - Onus of proof - Sufficiency of reasons - Accused convicted of importing cocaine - Court of Appeal upholding conviction - Whether the trial judge erred by misstating and misapplying the onus of proof under the third step of W.(D.) - Whether the trial judge erred by failing to provide sufficient reasons on the issue of mens rea, specifically with respect to the accused’s knowledge.


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The appellant arrived at the Toronto airport on a flight from Antigua. After he exited the airport, an unclaimed suitcase with luggage tags in his name was taken off the luggage carousel, searched and found to contain 15 kg of cocaine. The appellant denied checking the suitcase on the flight and denied any knowledge of the drugs. The trial judge found the appellant’s testimony to be unworthy of belief and incapable of raising a reasonable doubt in the Crown’s case. He convicted the appellant of importing cocaine. The majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Pardu J.A., dissenting, would have allowed the appeal. He was of the view that a misstatement by the trial judge of the onus of proof under the third step of R. v. W.(D.), [1991] 1 S.C.R. 742, combined with the failure of the trial judge to make a finding of fact about whether the appellant knew about the cocaine in his suitcase, warranted a new trial.