What the jury didn't hear: Convicted rapist had history of sex assault, violence against women

Jurors are now deliberating the fate of a man accused of raping a woman 22 years ago but they did not hear about his history of sexual assault and violence against women dating back to 1983.

Wayne Bernard was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault with a weapon and robbery in 22-year-old cold case

Wayne Bernard was convicted of raping a woman 22 years ago. (Janice Fletcher)

Jurors who decided the fate of a man they convicted of raping a woman 22 years ago did not hear about his history of sexual assault and violence against women dating back to 1983.

Wayne Howard Bernard, 55, was found guilty late Wednesday for the 1995 kidnapping, sexual assault and robbery of Maureen — a woman who was 51-years-old at the time and has since died. Her real name can not be reported because of a publication ban. 

Though the jurors did hear part of Bernard's criminal record, they did not know that he was first convicted of indecent assault on a female — today, the charge is known as sexual assault — in 1983. 

Considered "bad character evidence," this type of information is inadmissible because of the danger it poses in possibly biasing jurors toward conviction.

In 1988, Bernard — who was 27-years-old — was arrested and charged with sexual assault with a weapon and break and enter after a woman was raped at knife point in her Scarborough, Ont., basement apartment by an intruder. Bernard was never convicted of those charges.

In 2006, Bernard was convicted in Calgary of assault with a weapon. His victim was a woman.

Maureen's statements

The jury was also not allowed to hear evidence that Maureen told the doctor who examined her after the attack that she hadn't had sex in more than a year. 

Bernard testified on Monday that his DNA was found inside the victim because the two had consensual sex hours before she was kidnapped, driven to the outskirts of the city and raped. 

He told jurors that he and Maureen had developed a friendship during smoke breaks outside their neighbouring workplaces.

Ten years ago, Maureen died never knowing charges would be laid in her case. Because she could not testify, her 16-page handwritten police statement was read in as evidence.

Written statement

The Crown successfully applied to have Maureen's written police statement read to the jury, as well as her cry to the Good Samaritans who stopped to help her on the side of the road: "been raped." 

That evidence was admitted as exceptions to hearsay rules, but Court of Queen's Bench Justice Bruce Millar capped it at that; anything Maureen told others was not allowed to be heard, including her statement to the examining doctor.

Nearly two decades after Maureen was kidnapped and left on the side of the road, a cold case detective reopened the case, sent some of the evidence to a lab for testing and got a match to Bernard's DNA.

He was arrested in 2015 and has been in custody ever since.

The jury returned the guilty verdicts at 9 p.m. Wednesday after deliberating for about eight and a half hours. Maureen's children cried tears of relief in the otherwise quiet courtroom..