A Prince Edward Island teacher has been granted a new trial after the Supreme Court of P.E.I. threw out his conviction for assaulting a student.
'The Crown is … free to give consideration as to whether or not it is in the public interest to pursue this matter further.'— Justice John Mitchell
Supreme Court Justice John Mitchell called the case trivial and suggested the Crown could drop it altogether.
Sylvain Olivain Aritho Amfoubalela was a teacher at Evangeline High School in Wellington, west of Summerside, in 2006 when he was accused of assaulting one of his students. According to the complaint, the teacher entered the boy's washroom during the morning break and slapped the Grade 12 student on the behind, with the back of his hand.
In the original trial, the student described the incident in this way: "I was wiping my hands. And Mr. Aritho came in and said [my name] and then he slapped my buttocks with the back of his hand."
Amfoubalela was fired from his job, charged with assault, and banned from teaching anywhere on P.E.I. He was convicted of assault after a trial in the provincial court.
In a decision release Sept. 25, the Supreme Court of P.E.I. overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial. Mitchell ruled that the Crown had conducted an improper cross-examination of the teacher and it had wrongly entered video evidence of a statement by Amfoubalela.
Mitchell said that without that evidence and cross-examination there wasn't much of a case left.
At the end of his decision, Mitchell suggested the Crown should consider whether to pursue a new trial.
"The Crown is, of course, free to give consideration as to whether or not it is in the public interest to pursue this matter further given the rather trivial nature of the incident," he wrote.
Amfoubalela hasn't been able to teach for three years as a result of the charges. He is currently without a job. He told CBC News on Thursday it is too early to comment on the case because it is still before the courts, but he wants his story to eventually be heard.
The Crown said it hasn't decided yet whether or not to retry Amfoubalela.