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A Princeton man accused of raping his ex-partner has conceded on charges of forcible confinement and assault, and likely has to wait at least until May before hearing a decision on the sexual assault charge.
Crown and defence delivered their closing remarks Thursday morning in Penticton’s courthouse, offering different takes on the events on Nov. 10, 2016.
The defendant — who is only being referred to as D.W. to avoid identifying the complainant, M.A., on account of a publication ban — stood trial on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Thursday morning reserved for closing submissions.
Both lawyers noted that M.A. had been somewhat secretive in November 2016, both saying it was to hide her usage of cocaine from her friends.
“When the cocaine’s done, finished, that’s when she grew upset,” defence lawyer James Pennington said.
But Crown lawyer Nashina Devji said while M.A. had been secretive, she said she also didn’t want people to know she was seeing D.W., whom she had a peace bond with barring him from being at her house.
She added that while she was somewhat secretive at the time, when it came time to testify, she was open about the drug use she had been hesitant to admit to police. Under cross-examination, Devji said, M.A. stood her ground, was able to point out where her memory was unclear and correct her mistakes.
Pennington also cast some doubt on whether or not M.A. was screaming in an effort to alert neighbours, noting that no neighbours had heard anything that night. D.W. said during the trial he had received one complaint from a neighbour across the street in the past, when M.A. allegedly yelled and screamed outside of his house.
Devji, conversely, took aim at D.W.’s credibility, saying he minimized the issue and shifted blame onto M.A.
“The court should not accept (D.W.’s) version of events, because it is internally and externally inconsistent. It is inconsistent with common sense. And (D.W.) engages in something I call image management,” she said.
“He continues to place blame on (M.A.). He minimizes his bad behaviour, and he provides justifications for his actions.”
She added that D.W. saying he was not angry or upset about M.A. allegedly dating someone else — a claim she denied — was directly contrasted by his own behaviour. In texts, he threatened self-harm, despite an RCMP warning about that behaviour.
In terms of sexual assault cases in which the accused testifies, which are most often a he-said-she-said case, the judge typically needs to look at the precedent set by the Supreme Court of Canada ruling referred to as W.D.
According to that ruling, the judge must weigh the testimony of the defence and that of the complainant, and consider whether there is a reasonable doubt in the case.
Justice Nathan Smith asked Devji what evidence she would have against D.W. if, hypothetically, the judge had leaned toward seeing more credibility from the defendant’s testimony.
Devji pointed in particular to bruising on M.A.’s inner thigh, which came with testimony from a sexual assault care nurse.
“The cause of the force was fingertips. I submit that this is supportive of (M.A.’s) evidence, and it flows logically, based on her evidence, that force was applied to this area in order to open up (M.A.’s) legs, because (M.A.) was refusing to do this willingly,” Devji said.
She added that a lack of genital injuries was likely due to M.A.’s age, and because D.W. allegedly forced M.A.’s legs open, both of which, the nurse testified, could have mitigated the genital injuries.
But Pennington pointed to that lack of injury in his closing remarks and noted that the nurse’s report found “no objective findings.”
The defence did concede the matters of the assault and the forcible confinement on Thursday, however, after testimony from D.W. that confirmed injuries to M.A.’s face were the result of a struggle between the two.
He also admitted to running between doors in the house and wrapping his arms around M.A. to block her from leaving.
Smith said he likely could have a decision made by the end of the day, but said he would like not to rush it, and told the lawyers to find a date that works, preferably in May.