A burglar found guilty of breaking into Newton’s Hook & Ladder Pub in 2016 has lost his appeal of his conviction.
Richard Guenter Kaemmer, convicted by a Surrey provincial court judge of breaking and entering to commit an indictable offence, had his case reviewed by the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. It was dismissed on Thursday, April 25, by Justice John Hunter with Justices David Tysoe and John Savage concurring.
It centred on a Jan. 3, 2016 break-in. The court heard police arrested Kaemmer near the pub after a tracking dog named Erlo led the officers to him. There was no direct evidence against Kaemmer and the Crown’s case, Hunter noted, was “entirely circumstantial.”
At appeal Kaemmer’s lawyer argued the trial judge erred by ignoring relevant evidence related to his client’s arrest.
“I can see no error in the judge’s consideration of the evidence concerning the apprehension of the appellant,” Hunter decided. “It was open to the judge as trier of fact to conclude that the dog-tracking evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that the person who broke into the pub was in fact the appellant.”
The court heard the pub’s motion alarm was triggered shortly before 3:30 a.m., that police were at the scene within minutes and had found a hole in a back wall and some electronics in bushes beside the hole.
The police dog picked up a scent near this hole and then led police on a “meandering trail across parking lots, up stairs, past other buildings, through dense brush, up and over hills, down into ravines,” Hunter noted, all within a short distance from the pub. Eventually it led its handler to the suspect, who the court heard was found with a multi-tool but otherwise nothing from the pub.
At trial, Kaemmer’s lawyer challenged the reliability of the dog-tracking evidence, suggesting it picked up the scent not at the scene of the break-in but from a baseball cap the dog found while tracking.
“The evidence that the appellant was apprehended at 3:30 a.m.,” Hunter noted in his reasons for judgment, “on a freezing night in January in an industrial area where no stores were open to the public, after being tracked from the scene of the crime by a trained tracking dog was more that sufficient to support the conviction of the accused.”