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Summerland brothers have mischief convictions overturned in fungus dispute

B.C. Supreme Court overturnes earlier convictions in dispute with mushroom farm
Penticton court.

Two brothers in Summerland, who had earlier received mischief charges as a result of a long feud with a neighbouring property, have had their convictions overturned.

The decision, in B.C. Supreme Court, occurred on March 25 in Penticton.

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In October 2021, Brad Besler, 36 and his brother Darren Besler, 35, had been charged with criminal harassment and mischief under $5,000 in connection to events involving their neighbours, What The Fungus, a mushroom farm on Garnet Valley Road.

The brothers had complained about the neighbouring mushroom farm, including noxious odours from the property.

The incidents, dating back to the summer of 2019, include the brothers setting up surveillance cameras facing the mushroom farm and driving their vehicles close to the property line, at times spinning their tires.

While the brothers were not found guilty of harassment in October, they were found guilty of one count each of mischief.

The brothers received a conditional discharge and nine months of probation.

Brad Besler was then brought before the courts in November, after being found guilty of breaching his conditional discharge order. He had been caught on camera screaming at the neighbours. As a result, he received a year of more restrictions.

In his decision, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Steven Wilson said property damage to the mushroom farm did not occur as a result of the actions of the Besler brothers.

“I conclude that mischief cannot be an included offence because property rights are not necessarily affected,” he said.

The convictions for mischief were overturned because of the legal definition of mischief, Wilson said in his decision.

“Because I conclude that a person could criminally harass another without committing mischief, it follows that mischief is not an included offence. I, therefore, conclude that the trial judge erred in finding that mischief is an included offence of criminal harassment,” he stated in his decision.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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