Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Appeal Court Overturns Sailor's Sex-Assault Conviction over Fair-Trial Concerns

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Appeal Court Overturns Sailor's Sex-Assault Conviction over Fair-Trial Concerns

Article excerpt

Sailor's sex-assault conviction overturned

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HALIFAX - A Halifax-area navy sailor convicted of sexually assaulting a woman he met over Facebook has won a new trial because of ineffective legal representation.

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned Paul Simpson's conviction, saying his trial would not inspire public confidence in the criminal justice system -- and noting the Crown itself conceded the appeal.

The appeal judges said Simpson's lawyer, Laura McCarthy, did not appear to give effective, dedicated representation, noting she caused multiple delays and did not prepare him to testify.

"There was nothing complicated about this trial," the three-judge panel said in its ruling.

"A reasonable member of the public would not view the representation provided to Mr. Simpson as emblematic of a fair trial. The Crown's conceding of this appeal reflects that."

The 43-year-old leading seaman is accused of assaulting the woman on their second date, on Feb. 23, 2014.

The provincial court judge who convicted Simpson last June, Judge Theodore Tax, said the two had some consensual activity on both dates, but she told him she would not have intercourse that night. She repeatedly told him no before he forced himself on her, Tax said.

McCarthy had taken over as defence counsel for Simpson from her husband, Lyle Howe, after he was suspended from legal practice.

The appeal court noted late arrivals in court, disagreement over admitted facts in the case, an abandoned application to question the alleged victim about prior sexual activity, and Simpson's claim that she did not advise him on how to present himself on the witness stand.

"Mr. Simpson's trial cannot be seen as one that would reassure the public to have confidence in the administration of criminal justice," said the appeal court.

"Its appearance was not of effective, dedicated representation. …

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