New & Notable: Looking for just one reasonable inference...

Clinton Yowfoo had two acquaintances, Mac and Ngo. The three men were actively involved in drug trafficking. The three men had come to the attention of the police and they were under surveillance by the police. During that surveillance Yowfoo was observed “on numerous occasions” in the company of Ngo and Mac.


On August 6, 2009 Ngo and Mac were arrested. Their residence was searched and the police found large quantities of drugs and cash. Two days later the police attended another address – which was believed to be a stash house. When the police arrived Yowfoo’s car was in the driveway. It was not his residence. About 53 minutes later he emerged carrying two bags (which later were found to contain items consistent with drug trafficking). The police arrested him.

The police then searched the residence and found a locked closet – inside they discovered drugs and firearms – which could have been worth up to $1.7 million. Yowfoo was charged in relation to those items. The evidence at trial included his presence in the house, he had a key for the residence, he had packaging for the brand of lock on the closet, although there was no evidence he had a key for the lock.

Yowfoo was convicted. He appealed: 2013 ONCA 751.

On appeal Yowfoo argued that there was no evidence that he had a key for the lock on the closet and that he left without retrieving the items in the closet. From this, combined with the evidence above, Yowfoo argued that there is a reasonable inference that he attended that residence to clean out the drug trafficking items he was arrested with after having heard that Mac and Ngo were arrested and either had no knowledge or no control over the closet.

The Court of Appeal accepted this as a reasonable inference and overturned the conviction, notwithstanding that Yowfoo did not testify.