The jury in the trial of Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe has been sequestered for the night at a hotel after they failed to reach verdict following four hours of deliberations on Friday.

Howe, 29, 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.

Chief Justice Joseph Kennedy gave his final instructions to the jury Friday morning. After 15 days of contradictory testimony and 12 witnesses, the jury  made up of six men and six women —  began their deliberations just after 1:45 p.m. 

Before they left, Kennedy reviewed the evidence in the case and the law.

 

He told the jury the case hinges on consent. Kennedy said there is no question Howe and the woman had sex — the question is whether she consented.

He explained legal consent means the woman must be aware and willing throughout. It would not be enough for her to give her consent at the beginning and then become so impaired she couldn't continue to legally consent.

The jury will begin deliberating again on Saturday morning. 

Case of regret, says defence 

Earlier this week, the Crown and defence lawyers made their closing arguments.

Defence lawyer Mike Taylor told the jury Wednesday that this is a case of regret.

"I think the complainant regrets the situation that she got herself into and regrets it taking place, and was put in a position where she had to tell a story — that's the main thrust of what I was saying," he said.

Taylor says when the woman woke up the next morning with no recollection of her encounter with Howe, she felt pressured by family and friends to conclude she had been raped.

Taylor says her memory loss poses a major problem for the Crown.

"The key here is the complainant is the one who has to be relied on in order to prove the charge for the Crown, among other evidence, but she's central to this. And if her evidence isn't there, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a jury to decide what actually happened," he said.

Crown prosecutor Dan Rideout told jurors the complainant was straightforward in her answers, trying her best to tell the court what she remembered.

"We're dealing with three years ago, on the one hand — which all the witnesses had to deal with — but we're also dealing with somebody who's saying that she doesn't remember anything, inexplicably," said Rideout.