Acquittal for accused in Halifax cocaine trial

Nicholas Gaetz and Christopher Hill found not guilty Friday on drug trafficking charges

Courtoom 301 is where the Gaetz/Hill trial took place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.   Trent Erickson

Nicholas Daniel Gaetz and Christopher Hill, co-accused in a drug trafficking case, were both acquitted Friday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

In handing down his decision, Justice Felix Cacchione said that “suspicion of guilt is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” and he had doubt about the guilt of both Gaetz and Hill.

Hill was driving a Honda Civic on Quinpool Road on Nov. 14, 2016, when it was pulled over by police. Gaetz and three others were passengers in the vehicle.

In the trunk, police found a GoodLife bag containing 265 grams of cocaine, 12 MDMA tablets, 5 ½ Xanax tablets and a digital scale, which contained traces of cocaine and THC.

The three-day trial centred on two pieces of evidence: the bag and the responding officers’ testimony.

Crown attorney Jeff Moors argued that Gaetz and Hill knew about the bag and owned the drugs. Brian Warcop, defence attorney for Gaetz, and Trevor McGuigan, Hill’s lawyer, argued there was no evidence of that.

Justice Cacchione also noted the inconsistent testimony from three Halifax Regional Police officers.

On Wednesday, the three officers testified that after their arrest, the underage person said to Gaetz something like “just tell them it’s yours. You’re going to ruin my life.” The officers said that Gaetz responded “nobody talks and everybody walks.”

The inconsistency is that the exact wording and order of the exchange varied from officer to officer. Additionally, the exchange wasn’t logged, despite the officers acknowledging it is their duty to take detailed notes.

“(The) lack of any notes as to what was said to who that night … is troubling,” said Cacchione.

Outside the courtroom after the trial, Christopher Hill’s teary-eyed mother, Joanne Hill, said “justice was served.”