A jury has found prominent Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe guilty of sexually assaulting a woman, but not guilty of administering a stupefying drug.

The charges were laid after an alleged incident on March 20, 2011, involving a 19-year-old woman. She accused Howe of drugging and sexually assaulting her.

The jury, made up of six men and six women, deliberated for more than 10 hours. They were sequestered at a hotel overnight Friday and delivered the verdict on Saturday at 4:40 p.m.

 

Howe held his head in his hands after the verdict and then left the courtroom, reported the CBC's Richard Cuthbertson. He could be heard swearing loudly in the hallway. 

"This is not right," he said once he re-entered the courtroom. He said he's lost his career. 

The jury all said they agreed with the verdict. 

Question of consent

The Crown argued the woman was impaired during the assault and didn't give consent. The woman testified she woke up naked the next morning with almost no memory of their visit.

During the trial, Howe took the stand in his own defence. He argued the woman agreed to have sex.

When it came to the drug charge a toxicologist testified no drugs or alcohol were found in the complainant's blood, however traces of morphine and codeine were found in her urine sample. Christopher Keddy said her memory loss was likely caused by alcohol.

Keddy said there are a few drugs that would not have shown up in blood or urine tests 24 hours later, one being the date rape drug GHB. No test was done for that drug as the window for finding it had already passed.

Before the jury members began deliberating on Friday, Chief Justice Joseph Kennedy told them the case hinged on legal consent. Kennedy said there is no question Howe and the woman had sex — the question is whether she consented.

Howe is free pending his sentencing hearing July 30. The Crown lawyers say they expect to ask for jail time.

Defence lawyer Mike Taylor said there’s “reasonable chance” Howe will appeal.

He said his client’s career is “basically destroyed.”