Ainsworth's historic Silver Ledge Hotel burned down on June 3

Split ruling in Hanoski arson case

The judge in the Silver Ledge Hotel arson trial will admit as evidence incriminating statements Randy Hanoski allegedly made while in the back seat of a police car.

The judge in the Silver Ledge Hotel arson trial will admit as evidence incriminating statements Randy Hanoski allegedly made while in the back seat of a police car.

But Judge Ron Fabbro tossed out a letter Hanoski is believed to have written the night before the Ainsworth landmark burned down, ruling its seizure was a violation of his Charter rights.

Fabbro gave his rulings in Nelson Provincial Court on Monday afternoon, and said he would issue written reasons later.

The defence argued statements two police officers said Hanoski made while being transported to Trail — including “I’m really upset the porch is gone, but my emotions got the better of me,” and “I wanted to watch it burn. I felt very frustrated,” and “I got drunk. Then I got angry” — were not made voluntarily.

However, Fabbro said he was “satisfied the Crown has proved voluntariness beyond a reasonable doubt,” and he would allow the statements to be admitted.

On the other hand, he accepted the defence’s contention that the seizure of a letter Hanoski mailed violated his expectation of privacy.

Court heard the envelope, taken from the Ainsworth post office by police, contained a card with a fabric bow, $540 in $20 bills, and four loose leaf, double-sided handwritten pages. It was addressed to Hanoski’s girlfriend in Courtenay.

The letter’s content was not revealed in court, although police said they took it because they were concerned it might be a suicide note.

Hanoski’s lawyer noted he was not using the mails for anything illegal, and the envelope was seized without a warrant.

The judge agreed it was a breach of Hanoski’s rights.

The trial adjourned to October 4 to set a date for continuance.

The Crown indicated it may call one additional witness, and possibly recall an RCMP officer who previously testified about the letter.

However, the defence does not plan to call evidence. Both sides agreed that including closing submissions, the trial would require about another three courts of court time.

Hanoski, 54, has plead not guilty to one count of arson in the June 3, 2010 blaze, which court heard started in a trailer and then spread to the neighbouring 114-year-old hotel.

The trial also heard the fire occurred the same day Hanoski was supposed to leave the property by court order.

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