Prominent Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe took the stand in his own defence at his sexual assault trial on Monday.

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.

Howe’s version of events from March 2011 is markedly different from the account given by the woman who accuses Howe of drugging and sexually assaulting her.

He gave his testimony with his wife sitting in the front row. 


Howe testified Monday that he and his friend, Jeffrey Brown, made plans to meet the complainant that night in March 2011.

"We were just going to meet, to see her and hang out," said Howe.

Howe testified that the sexual touching started when they were in the complainant's apartment playing pool, after Brown had left. He said he rubbed the complainant’s buttocks and she rubbed his inner thigh.

He told the court, the complainant removed her leggings and then, while they were seated on the couch, she opened his pants and began performing oral sex.

Howe said the woman then asked him to call his friend Brown back to the apartment and she would have sex with both of them.

Howe told the court the complainant retrieved condoms from her bedroom and then they had sex on a reclining chair in the living room while Brown watched.

Howe said he then left. Brown and the woman stayed in the apartment.

When asked whether he thought the woman appeared impaired, Howe replied, "Absolutely not."

He said he didn't put anything in the woman's drink and didn't see anyone else put anything in her drink. 

Howe said when he was arrested he felt “horrible” and felt “it was unfair.”

Varying versions

"Credibility is a big issue in this case and that's one of the reasons that it would be necessary, or I felt it would be necessary, in this case to call him," said Defence lawyer Mike Taylor

"Because the jury is going to have to make a decision and they'll need to have something to consider against the backdrop of the evidence of the complainant."

Taylor finished his questioning on Monday morning.

In the afternoon, the Crown started trying to pick apart Howe's version of events, accusing him of trying to shape his testimony to match that of his friend from earlier in the trial.

Howe denied that, saying his version is the truth.

"There are various points of view about a lot of different points. Not just that night but what happened before that night and what happened after that night," said Crown attorney Darcy MacPherson.

"Different people have different points of view. You expect differences, but some of these are more pronounced than others."

The Crown will continue their cross-examination on Tuesday.

Justice Joseph Kennedy said he expects the case to wind up sometime this week.