Mr. G had been the step-father of the complainant “C” who was 19 at the time of trial but had been approximately 13 at the time of the alleged incidents. C accused Mr. G of touching her in a sexual way on three occasions. Mr. G denied all the accusations.
Charges of this nature carry severe consequences. For a person who is found guilty, in addition to the criminal record and the sentence which usually involves lengthy incarceration, there is the added penalty of having to register in the National Sex Offender Registry under the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA). According to the Criminal Code, the judge must make an order requiring the person to comply with the provisions of SOIRA for 10 or 20 years or in some cases for life. The person has to report to a registration centre initially seven days after the order is made or the person is released from custody and thereafter within seven days of any change of address. Other information, including place of employment or school, or any change of name, also has to be reported. Mr. G needed to avoid being found guilty of any of the three offences with which he had been charged.
Credibility of the complainant and of Mr. G would be issues at trial. To find Mr. G guilty, the court had to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that C was both a credible witness and that her account was reliable. Our research and knowledge of the case law indicated that one of the most important considerations of the court in assessing credibility, would be the consistency of what C said in the witness box and what she had said on other occasions. We obtained and painstakingly combed through the transcripts of the complainant’s statements made to police, in the preliminary hearing, during her direct examination at trial and during her cross-examination, looking for inconsistencies in her accounts. Several such inconsistencies were found.
The judge found that Mr. G’s testimony was credible and that C’s testimony was neither credible nor reliable. The judge found that: “The inconsistencies in her evidence about the sexual touching between her police statement, preliminary hearing evidence and trial evidence (even between direct and cross evidence) made her evidence not reliable nor believable. It is not possible to resolve these major inconsistencies.” Accordingly, Mr. G was acquitted on all three counts.