Ontario court dismisses claim that gun conviction resulted from racial profiling

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TORONTO — Ontario’s highest court has dismissed an appeal from a man who argued his gun offence conviction was the result of racial profiling.

Richard Steel’s lawyers had argued that the judge at the man’s trial had erred in failing to properly consider evidence of racial profiling in finding him guilty.

The Ontario Court of Appeal found there was no basis to interfere with the trial judge’s conclusion that Steel’s stop and search were not racially motivated, and also found that Steele’s charter rights were not infringed.

The appeal court also found that Steele’s convictions were “supported by the evidence and were not unreasonable.”

An Ontario Superior Court justice convicted Steele in 2010 of concealing a loaded handgun under the front passenger seat of his mother’s car after being pulled over in Hamilton, Ont.

There were four black men in the car and Steele alleged he was a victim of driving while black.

Court documents have shown Steele’s lawyer argued the gun the officer found should have been excluded as evidence, because Const. Yvonne Stephens allegedly conducted an improper search of the vehicle.

Steele’s lawyers also maintained police only pulled the vehicle over because of the driver’s race and then violated Steele’s right to privacy.

The Crown denied racial profiling had anything to do with the incident, and said the officer’s behaviour was not unusual or racist.

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