The owner of the Smuggler’s Inn in Blaine has won an application to have the Canadian government fund his defence against human-smuggling-related charges. (File photo)

Canada to pay legal fees for U.S. inn owner accused of human-smuggling

Robert Boule’s ‘Rowbotham application’ granted Friday in B.C. Supreme Court

A U.S. inn owner facing charges in Canada relating to human smuggling has had an application to have his defence funded by the Canadian government granted.

According to court records, the decision regarding Smuggler’s Inn owner Robert Boule’s request was made Friday following a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court.

Boule made the “Rowbotham application” before Justice Frits Verhoeven at the New Westminster courthouse.

The application – named after a 1988 case in Ontario – is an option for people “facing serious and complex criminal charges,” who have been denied legal aid and can’t afford a lawyer.

Boule is facing charges related to knowingly inducing, aiding or abetting people in illegally attempting to enter Canada, as well as charges of breaching recognizance relating to a prior indictment.

READ MORE: Nine of 30 smuggling charges stayed against Smugglers Inn owner, trial date set

Arrested in April, the senior was released on $15,000 bail last month, with more than a dozen conditions, including that he must deny potential customers if they give any indication of a plan to enter Canada illegally.

Friday, prosecutor Daniel Meneley, counsel for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, told the court that a key to successful Rowbotham applications is that counsel representation be deemed essential to conduct a fair trial.

He noted “the complexity (of the case) is acknowledged and conceded” by the Crown.

Boule has been self-represented since January, the court heard.

He told PAN he can’t afford a lawyer.

“There’s no funds,” Boule said.

His former lawyer, Peter Edelmann, told Peace Arch News outside court – before the decision – that he couldn’t speak to Boule’s case specifically, but that ultimately, the matter was about an accused’s right to counsel. Edelmann was not available to comment further Monday, prior to PAN’s afternoon press deadline.

David MacAlister, director of Simon Fraser University’s school of criminology, said the step is not a common one.

“It’s something that you don’t hear very much about,” said MacAlister, who noted he was in law school when the Rowbotham case came up. “I’ve encountered a few… six or seven.”

MacAlister said while it is even less common to see applications involving non-Canadians, if the case is sufficiently complex, it doesn’t matter where the applicant resides.

“The rights that we have in the charter are applicable to all people,” he said.

Boule’s case is set for trial early next year, from Jan. 13 to Feb. 5.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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