Nova Scotia

Defence closes case in British sailor's gang rape trial

Darren Smalley did not testify in his own defence, and his lawyer ended Tuesday by arguing over the admissibility of some of the evidence presented in his trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

Final arguments expected Thursday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax

Darren Smalley, left, a British sailor charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm, leaves a Nova Scotia Supreme Court courtroom last month. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The defence in the sexual assault trial of a British sailor accused of gang-raping a Canadian woman at a Halifax-area airbase has closed its case.

Darren Smalley did not testify in his own defence, and his lawyer ended Tuesday by arguing over the admissibility of some of the evidence presented in his trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

Smalley is one of four sailors who were charged in relation to an incident in the barracks at 12 Wing Shearwater in April 2015. They were members of the British Royal Navy hockey team who were in town to play in a military tournament.

The woman testified earlier in the trial that she awoke that to find herself naked on a bed with three men performing sex acts on her. She said she did not consent to any of it.

Conversation overheard

One of the final defence witnesses, a teammate of Smalley's, testified Monday that he overheard a conversation that night between the woman and her friend who had accompanied her to the barracks.

According to the witness, Royal Marines commando Paul Hoskins, the complainant told her friend that she would sleep with Simon and her friend could sleep with another sailor. Simon was an apparent reference to another of the accused in the case, Simon Radford.

Radford was supposed to be on trial with Smalley, but the Crown stayed charges against him last month because he had to return to England for treatment of a serious infection. 

Smalley, 38, is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and participating in a sexual assault involving one or more people.

Judge allows testimony

The Crown had objected to Hoskins's testimony being introduced as evidence, saying it violated Criminal Code provisions against delving into the prior sexual history of a complainant in a sexual assault case.

Defence lawyer Ian Hutchinson countered Tuesday that the comments attributed to the complainant were not about her prior activity, but a statement of her future intentions.

In the end, Justice Patrick Duncan said he would consider the testimony as far as it reflects on the credibility of the complainant, since it directly contradicts her description of her state of mind that night.

The lawyers will return to court on Thursday to make their final arguments.

The charges against the other two men who were originally implicated in the case were stayed during earlier court proceedings.