Nova Scotia

British sailors charged in gang rape to hear about bail change Wednesday

Three of four British sailors charged with sexually assaulting a woman in Halifax were in court Tuesday to challenge the conditions of their bail. They'll have to wait until Wednesday to learn if they can go home while awaiting their next court appearance.

Crown has opposed application as the accused could be redeployed by British military

The British sailors were in Halifax to play in a hockey tournament against Canadian teams. (Facebook)

Three British sailors accused of taking part in the gang rape of a Canadian woman last April in Halifax will find out Wednesday if they can return to England to wait for their next court appearance.

Four men are accused of the sexual assault, but only three of them are asking that their bail conditions be changed to allow them to return home.

Crown Attorney Scott Morrison opposes the changes, and said the Crown has concerns that the men could be redeployed at any time, jeopardizing future trial proceedings.

"They [the British navy] reserve the right to deploy these men and if these men are deployed, that could create issues with respect to extradition," he said. "If we release [the soldiers] on the plan that's currently being proposed, it is entirely in the hands of the British Navy as to whether or not they will be coming back."

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 Royal Navy participated in a "group sexual assault" on April 10 inside a barracks at CFB Shearwater.

'It needs to be clearly mapped out'

The four have been staying with a British army unit at a Canadian military base in Alberta.  They had to surrender their passports as a condition of their release.

All but Smalley have applied for changes to their bail conditions to allow them to return to the U.K.

Morrison said he wouldn't speculate about options to allow the sailors to return home because it's unclear what the British Navy is willing to commit to. If there are other options, he said it's up to the defence to work it out. 

"We need to know exactly what's being proposed. It needs to be clearly mapped out."

None of the allegations against the four men has been tested in court.

Court heard in June that Smalley has elected to be tried by a judge and jury in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Morrison has said if two or more people are charged with the same offence and one elects trial by judge and jury, then the rest must follow suit under the Criminal Code.

CBC's Blair Rhodes covered the hearing

With files from The Canadian Press

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