No decision yet on whether accused can have jury trial

Red Deer man accused of sexual assault alleges he got bad legal advice

A judge is considering whether to allow a man accused of sexual assault to have his case heard before a jury.

The accused, who can’t be named because of a publication ban in place to protect the identities of his alleged victims, was to go on trial before a judge alone beginning last Friday.

However, defence lawyer Kevin Sproule told Red Deer provincial court Judge Bart Rosborough that new evidence had emerged and his client wanted to change his trial to judge and jury.

The accused is alleging that he got “ineffective representation” from his two previous lawyers, one of whom he dropped shortly before he was to stand trial last July.

The 49-year-old accused was arrested in November 2015 in connection with a series of alleged offences that occurred over an extended period of time beginning early that year.

He is facing charges of sexual assault, assault, uttering threats to cause bodily harm and theft of a vehicle.

Rosborough heard testimony from the two previous lawyers on Tuesday.

“The judge is currently considering the evidence and the argument, and will make his decision in due time,” says Alberta Justice spokeswoman Katherine Thompson in an email.

The next court date has been set for Oct. 29. If a jury trial is allowed, a preliminary hearing will then take place. Preliminary hearings are used to test the strength of the Crown’s case before proceeding to trial in a higher court.

If the change to a jury trial is not allowed, a trial by judge alone will begin then.

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