Manitoba

Winnipeg man convicted of sexual assault set free after case took too long, appeal says

A Winnipeg man serving time for sexual assault will walk free after the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled that the case took too long to get through the system.

It took 37 months from the time charges were laid until case concluded in court, ruling states

A ruling from the Manitoba Court of Appeal, released Thursday, said it took 37 months from the time charges were laid until the time the case concluded in court. That delay breached the accused's charter right to have the trial held "within a reasonable time," the court said. (Bert Savard/CBC)

A Winnipeg man serving time for sexual assault will walk free after the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled that the case took too long to get through the system.

The written ruling, released Thursday, said it took 37 months from the time charges were laid until the time the case concluded in court.

The appeal ruling said that delay breached the accused's charter right to have the trial held "within a reasonable time."

"This far exceeds the reasonable delay of 14 to 18 months," the ruling states in part.

"It is well accepted that the minimum remedy for such an infringement is a stay of proceedings."

There were many reasons for the delays, from the Crown and defence not finding agreeable court dates to the judge suddenly taking time off.

The accused and the complainant were dating. The man was arrested in January 2010 and charged with assault causing bodily harm, four counts of assault, uttering threats and sexual assault causing bodily harm.

The case was remanded seven times before a preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 2011. That hearing was adjourned again after it was discovered that the Crown had not provided all of the investigating officer's notes, the ruling said.

The preliminary hearing started in November 2011 and didn't wrap up until April 2012. That delay was because the inquiry judge was away on an "unexpected leave of absence."

The court and the Crown were available for a trial in November 2012, but the defence was not available until February 2013. The trial ended in March 2013.

The man was convicted of assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault causing bodily harm, two counts of failing to comply with court orders, four counts of assault and uttering threats. He was sentenced to 3½ years in prison concurrent. With the charges now stayed, he will be released.​

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