Nova Scotia

Sexual assault trial of former Bridgewater police chief wraps up

The sexual assault trial of former Bridgewater, N.S., police chief John Collyer has wrapped up. The judge has reserved her decision until Oct. 24.

WARNING: This story contains graphic content describing an alleged sexual assault

John Collyer is shown at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Bridgewater on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (Robert Short/CBC)

The former police chief of the town of Bridgewater, N.S., is now waiting for a judge's decision on charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation against him.

John Collyer was charged after a young woman alleged she'd been assaulted three years ago, when she was almost 17. The woman is now 20 and her identity is protected by a publication ban.

Lawyers for the Crown and defence made their closing arguments Wednesday in Collyer's trial, which stretched over six days in July and three days this week.

Earlier this summer, the complainant told the court Collyer inserted his fingers into her vagina while she was a passenger in his two-seater sports car.

The court has also heard extensively about Facebook messages with sexual innuendo Collyer sent to the complainant.

Collyer has pleaded not guilty, and denies that he ever touched the woman in the way she alleges.

Defence's position

Today, defence lawyer David Bright said this isn't a complex case, and noted the complainant's account of the car ride is very similar to Collyer's, with the exception of her account of sexual assault.

"The real issue with this case is whether the events alleged to form the basis of the crimes ever took place," Bright said in his summation, adding he believes the Crown failed to prove the assault beyond a reasonable doubt.

Bright said he's concerned the Crown's use of the Facebook messages is an attempt to prove Collyer showed "bad character" and that he was therefore more likely to commit sexual assault, which Bright suggested is a faulty argument.

Crown's argument

The Crown argues the Facebook messages are important to show Collyer's state of mind at the time, which could explain a motive for sexual assault.

"What the Crown is submitting in its theory is that at one point in time in 2016 … the feelings of Mr. Collyer towards [the complainant] changed," Crown attorney Roland Levesque said in his summation.

"They shifted from that of being a father figure."

Levesque said the Crown's theory is that Collyer became physically interested in the teenager, and expressed that in the Facebook messages where he wrote things such as:

  • "You are hot."
  • "Makes me want to come over there and steal u away."
  • "Hanging out in your room? If I was alone, I would get in trouble."
  • "Apparently you give awesome foot rubs! Guess I will never know."

Levesque noted that the alleged sexual assault happened two months after the Facebook messages, which he called a "close period of time," and suggested that shows a motive that Justice Mona Lynch is entitled to take into account in her reasoning.

The judge has reserved her decision until Thursday, Oct. 24.