A North Preston man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl has been found not guilty of all charges against him.
Justice Glen MacDougall acquitted Doreze Beals of the charges Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. Beals's family applauded as MacDougall gave his decision.
At the same time, the judge wished Beals a happy birthday. He turned 20 today.
The girl testified at trial that in April 2014 Beals and his co-accused, Andre Jerome Gray, held her against her will in a cellar, sexually assaulted her and threatened to force her to work as a prostitute in Ontario.
Crown attorney Perry Borden said inconsistencies with the girl's statements paired with the defence witnesses "raised a lot of reasonable doubt."
"Interesting what he [the judge] said in his decision. It's not that he disbelieved everything she said. Similarly, he didn't accept everything that defence witnesses said either," Borden said.
"But at the end of the day there was just too much doubt that he had to find Mr. Beals guilty of all five offences."
Two accused, two different verdicts
Gray pleaded guilty to assault and confinement. He was sentenced to time served of 33 months. Gray is banned from using or possessing weapons for 10 years and his DNA will be added to a national data bank.
"We certainly accept Justice McDougall's decision in relation to Mr. Gray," Borden said.
"What he was alleged to have done — there's certain stronger points in his evidence, or in the case against him than what there were in Mr. Beals and there's stronger points in the case against Mr. Beals than what there were with Mr. Gray."
Beals had opted to fight the charges in a trial. He was charged with sexual interference, human trafficking, kidnapping, confinement and abduction.
In January, Beals testified that he barely knew the girl, having only talked briefly with her through Facebook and text messages before meeting her in person that day.
He told the court he and the girl were alone at his house when her mother showed up. Beals said the girl asked to be hidden in the cellar because she was terrified of her mother.
"Make no mistake. The complainant in this matter is without a doubt one of the most courageous young persons I've ever met in my life," Borden said.
"She told her story and certain parts of her story was not disputed by the Crown. Something happened. We just didn't prove what happened."