Nova Scotia

British sailors accused of Halifax gang rape to have hearing in April

Preliminary hearing dates have been set for four British sailors who are charged with sexual assaulting a woman in Halifax.

Three of the accused want to return to England until the preliminary hearing; Crown opposed

The Crown alleges four members of the British navy participated in a "group sexual assault" on April 10 at CFB Shearwater, a military base in Halifax. (Facebook)

A preliminary inquiry for four British sailors charged with sexual assaulting a woman in Halifax has been scheduled for five days next April in provincial court.

The presiding judge said no pleas will be entered until after the preliminary hearing in April 2016.

Simon Radford, Joshua Finbow, Craig Stoner and Darren Smalley were in Nova Scotia to play in a hockey tournament with local Armed Forces personnel when they were arrested in April.

The Crown alleges the members of the British navy participated in a "group sexual assault" on April 10 at CFB Shearwater, a military base in Halifax.

Each man is charged with one count of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual assault committed with one or more other persons.

During Tuesday's court appearance, Crown attorney Scott Morrison said he will oppose an application by three of the four accused — Radford, Finbow and Stoner — to return to England until the preliminary hearing.

"They want the freedom to be able to return to the U.K. pending trial," he said.

"The Crown's perspective is we've created a bail plan that allows them a substantial amount of freedom, but keeps them in the country so we can ensure they'll attend court to be dealt with according to the law."

The four members are out on bail after being transferred from a Halifax military base to one in Alberta.

A provincial court granted a change in bail conditions last month, allowing them to move to CFB Suffield where there is a British army training unit.

The case is due back in court on Aug. 11, when the application to change the men's bail conditions will be considered.

With files from The Canadian Press

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