Sexual assault trial stalls

Accused wants to change his trial to judge and jury

The trial of a man accused of sexual assault is on hold after an 11th-hour request to have the case tried 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 on 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 man 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.

On Monday, Rosborough said he needs to hear from the accused’s previous lawyers before he can make any decision on the application to switch the mode of trial. Arrangements were made to hear from the lawyers on Tuesday afternoon.

Crown prosecutor Bina Border opposes the application to change to a jury trial.

This sort of application just prior to a trial is unusual. More commonly, the competency of legal representation is raised during appeal following a conviction.

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