Man convicted of sex assault wins new trial
Samuel Otis Downey was convicted last summer of luring girl into his car, assaulting her
A Nova Scotia man convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl has won a new trial.
Samuel Otis Downey was convicted last summer of luring the girl into his car and assaulting her. The alleged incident happened in January in East Preston.
At Downey's trial, the girl testified that he drove her to a secluded area, pinned her to the car seat and fondled and raped her.
Provincial Court Judge Castor Williams ruled that some of what the girl described was physically impossible.
But he accepted her claims that Downey grabbed her breasts even though she told him to stop and tried to fend him off.
However, a ruling released Thursday by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal found the trial judge erred in his assessment of the girl's evidence.
Writing for the three-member appeal court, Justice David Farrar said "I am satisfied that the trial judge committed a fundamental error of law in his assessment of the evidence of the complainant."
Farrar went on to say "The trial judge's statement that 'overall her testimony is considered to be true' is simply wrong."
"It is hard to imagine an error that could be any more prejudicial to an accused," Farrar wrote.
The Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial. But it's not clear, at this point, whether that trial will actually go ahead.