New Brunswick

Defence appeals Wilbur Dedam guilty verdict

Wilbur Dedam's defence team has appealed the former Esgenoopetitj chief's conviction on six charges of sexual assault against three women dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

Former chief of Esgenoopetitj First Nation was convicted of 6 sex charges dating back to the 1970s

Wilbur Dedam, the former chief of Esgenoôpetit First Nation, was convicted of six sexual assault charges dating back to the 1970s and 80s. He is appealing the verdict. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)

Wilbur Dedam's defence team has appealed the former Esgenoopetitj chief's conviction on six charges of sexual assault against three women dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

The appeal, dated Dec. 21, takes issue with evidence admitted to trial by Justice Tracey Deware and her instructions to the jury during the trial, which took place at the Miramichi Court of Queen's Bench.

The document is signed by Fredericton lawyer T.J. Burke and Toronto lawyers Michael Lacy and Joseph Wilkinson.

One of the grounds cited for appeal deals with the historical nature of the allegations and claims Deware failed to notify the jury of the difficulties in defending such a case.

Dedam was sentenced to nine years in prison after he was found guilty by a jury of six men and six women Sept 29, 2016.

The jury deliberated for 10 hours over two days.

The six charges Dedam was convicted of are based on the Criminal Code at the time of the offences, which took place from 1977 to 1985.

They offences were: sexual intercourse with a female under 14, sexual intercourse with a female under 16, 
sexual intercourse without consent, illicit sexual intercourse, and two counts of sexual assault on a female person.

The identity of the victims is protected by a publication ban on any information that would identify them.

The women were teenagers or younger at the time of the assaults. During that time, Wilbur Dedam was chief of Esgenoopetitj First Nation, then called Burnt Church.

Dedam was chief of the community on and off for 30 years in total.

The judge took into account Dedam's aboriginal heritage at the sentencing.

Dedam's lawyer, T.J. Burke, said at the time that his client was "surprised" by the sentence.

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