A toxicology expert testifying for the defence at the trial of Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe told a jury Thursday the levels of codeine and morphine found in the alleged victim’s urine were extremely low and may have come from poppy seeds.

Howe has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and administering a stupefying drug. The charges were laid after an alleged incident on March 20, 2011, involving a 19-year-old woman.


The defence hired Dr. Joel Mayer to review the results of toxicology tests done on urine samples taken from the woman about 24 hours after the alleged assault.

He testified that in his opinion codeine was not ingested in a large enough dose to cause the loss of consciousness and memory problems the complainant has described.

His report, submitted as evidence, says levels of codeine and morphine “are extremely low and may be due to the ingestion of poppy seed-containing foods at some time between the alleged sexual assault and the collection of the sample.”

Under cross-examination Mayer was repeatedly asked by Crown attorney Darcy MacPherson about the effects of the date rape drug GHB.

No traces of the drug were found in the complainant's urine. Mayer said the drug would not likely persist in someone’s system 24 hours after it was ingested.

The complainant has testified she went out for an evening with Howe and another man. They drank at a bar, then at Howe’s office before going to the woman’s apartment.

The woman has told the jury she remembers little of what happened next.

She woke up the next morning and found condoms around the apartment. The woman testified she suspected she’d been raped and went to hospital to be assessed.