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Bradley Ross fired his lawyer and appealed his conviction. (CBC)

 

A Bedford, N.S. lawyer has agreed to give up the practice of criminal law because of his mishandling of a high-profile sexual assault case.

Gary Jewett consented to a formal reprimand by the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society.  The notice was posted just before Christmas.

Bradley Ross and his father retained Jewett in 2009.  Ross was one of two young men charged with the sexual assault of a girl younger than 14.  The pair were accused of assaulting the girl as they rode in a minivan from Fall River to Halifax in June of that year.

At the trial, Ross admitted to the sexual activity.  But Jewett made the argument that Ross had the mistaken belief the victim was older than 14.

Ross and his co-accused Michael Hindler were convicted of sex offences. Ross fired Jewett and appealed his conviction.

Among the grounds for appeal, Ross cited poor representation by Jewett, who did not call any witnesses during the trial.

'A miscarriage of justice'

In April 2012, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned Ross' conviction and ordered a new trial.

In its decision, the appeal court noted: "in this instance, counsel's errors and omissions prevented Mr. Ross from making full answer and defence...  Mr. Jewett's representation of Mr. Ross was ineffective, resulting in a miscarriage of justice."

This summer, the Public Prosecution Service decided not to retry Ross. Crown Prosecutor Eric Taylor said there were several reasons for ending the case, including the time period since the offence, the likelihood of a minimum sentence in the event of a new conviction and the very real consequences Ross has already suffered.

By the time the prosecution service made its decision, the Complaints Investigation Committee of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society was already investigating Jewett's handling of Ross' original trial.

After the society launched its investigation, Jewett agreed to temporarily stop handling criminal cases.

He also agreed to hand all criminal files he already had over to other lawyers.

Last month, Jewett gave a written response to the Society's investigation.

"I understand that the quality of service provided by me to Mr. Ross negatively impacted his case and defence," Jewett wrote.

"I acknowledge that my conduct under the circumstances could amount to a finding of professional misconduct and/or professional incompetence," he added.

Jewett went on to say he was consenting to a reprimand.  As a condition of that reprimand, he will no longer take on criminal cases.

Jewett has no prior complaints against him.  He's been a lawyer since 1975.