Laporte was discovered to have a bullet lodged in his body and the police had reason to believe that the bullet may assist them in determining whether he was involved in a shoot out with the police several years previously. A warrant was issued which purported to authorize a search to cause the bullet or bullets in question to be extracted by one or more duly qualified doctors. The warrant also contained a proviso that if in the course of such search the doctors in question should determine that there is any serious danger to Laporte's life, the search must cease.
Laporte petitioned for the warrant to be quashed.
- Is a person a "building, receptacle, or place" for the purposes of the execution of a warrant?
Petition allowed; warrant quashed.
Hugessen holds that it is readily apparent that a body is not a "building" or a "receptacle", thus the question is really whether the body constitutes a "place". Using a purposeful interpretation it is clear that this was intended to refer to a geographical location exclusively.
The Crown argued in the alternative that the common law power to search and seize incident to arrest could apply to make the warrant valid, but Hugessen disagreed. He held that the purpose of search incident to arrest was to make the arrest effective, to ensure the evidence does not disappear, and to prevent the commission of a further offence. While he ruled that surgical invasion of a person is definitely not covered, he declined to rule on minor medical procedures such as the extraction of blood or an X-ray.
Holding that it would be a gross extension of police power and a violation of the security of the person to allow for surgical removal of the bullet, he ordered the warrant quashed.
The human body is not a "building, receptacle, or place" for the purposes of the execution of a warrant.