The B.C. Supreme Court has approved the request to fund the legal fees of a US citizen accused of smuggling illegal migrants into Canada.
The rare and unprecedented move is legally known as the “Rowbotham application” which takes its namesake from a 1988 Ontario case. The application allows people facing serious charges to seek legal funding if they can’t afford it themselves.
The Blaine, Washington resident Robert Joseph Boule (69), was granted $15,000 bail on 30 charges related to smuggling seven illegal migrants into Canada through his bed and breakfast property The Smuggler’s Inn.
Nine of the 30 charges have since been dropped by the crown and his trial is expected to last from January 13 to February 15. While on bail Boule will be allowed to return to the United States but must meet several conditions including placing a warning sign to dissuade people from crossing the border on his property.
The Smuggler’s Inn is located alongside “0 Ave” in Surrey, B.C., an unguarded road which straddles the U.S.-Canada border.
According to Boule’s neighbours, several people walk across the border into Canada along their property every month often being dropped off or picked up by taxicabs.