A technically flawed search warrant led to the reversal of a child pornography convict, who had been found guilty of possessing child pornography imaterial.
The Supreme Court of Canada in a 4-3 decision held that a Saskatchewan man, Urbain P. Morelli, deserved to be acquitted because he had been subjected to "unreasonable" search and seizure in 2003 that led to the conviction under challenge.
"This case concerns the right of everyone in Canada , including the appellant, to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure ... particularly, to the search and seizure of a personal computer," Justice Morris Fish wrote quashing the conviction.
Justice Fish further noted that the search warrant was obtained by the authorities on the basis of misleading and factually incomplete information. The police, Judge Fish pointed out, "invoked an unsupported stereotype of an ill-defined 'type of offender' and imputed that stereotype to the appellant".
In 2005, after the conviction, Morelli had been sentenced to an 18-months house arrest. The search warrant that led to overturning of the conviction was issued solely on the basis of the statement by a computer technician, Adrian Hounjet, who found the icons "Lolita Porn" and "Lolita XXX" on Morelli's computer when he visited Morelli's to install high-speed internet connection.
He also saw Morelli's webcam pointed at the toys of Morelli's daughter, and on his second visit he noticed that the icons had been deleted and toys cleared, which deepened his suspicion. He told his mother, who, in turn, informed the authorities. The search warrant was then obtained and executed in January 2003, four months after Hounjet's visits.