County man acquitted of bestialityJudge finds too many inconsistencies in former girlfriend's claims
by Lisa Brown
COUNTY — A Lunenburg County man was acquitted of a string of domestic abuse charges December 19, including accusations of sexual assault and bestiality.
But as the man’s supporters began to cheer in a Bridgewater courtroom, Supreme Court Justice Richard Coughlan ordered them to be quiet saying acquittal and innocence are not the same thing.
“This is a court of law and people are found not guilty. People are not found innocent of anything. They are found not guilty of the offences as charged,” he said.
The 39-year-old man had been in custody since early this year.
His 18-day trial began in May and stretched on a few days at a time, finally ending with last week’s decision.
He was charged with committing bestiality with a German shepherd and two counts of compelling his former girlfriend to commit bestiality with the same dog.
He was also accused of sexually assaulting her, twice assaulting her with a knife, and threatening to kill her, her father and his ex-wife.
All of the charges alleged dates between January 2008 and August 2010.
There is a publication ban on anything which might identify the woman, which includes the man’s name.
Handing down his decision last week, Justice Coughlan said issues with the woman’s testimony made it impossible to convict her former partner.
After initially levelling the allegations in August 2010, the woman wrote two letters the following February recanting what she’d said. She indicated she’d made the claims out of anger and to seek revenge after he ended their relationship.
Weeks later, she made another statement to the RCMP confirming what she’d said at the outset of the case.
Justice Coughlan said her recanting was consistent with an earlier phone message she had left for her ex saying she was going to speak to the police “out of anger and spite.”
Because of her heavy drug use at the time, there were also incidents that the woman could not remember clearly.
In the end, Justice Coughlan said there were just too many inconsistencies.
However, having watched the man testify over a number of days, the judge said it was clear he wanted to control the court process, didn’t want to answer some questions and didn’t like it when he didn’t get his way.
“His actions were those of a person who might make the threats and commit the assaults with which he is charged,” Justice Coughlan said, but added that the Crown didn’t meet the burden of proof.
“It is not sufficient if I believe [him] probably or likely guilty,” he said.
posted on 12/26/12
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