Nova Scotia

Lyle Howe trial hears toxicology evidence

The sexual assault trial of Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe continued Friday as the jury heard toxicology evidence.

Halifax lawyer charged with sexual assault and administering a stupefying drug

The sexual assault trial of Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe continued Friday as the jury heard toxicology evidence.

Howe has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and administering a stupefying drug. The charges were laid after an alleged incident on March 20, 2011, involving a 19-year-old woman.

For the first time, jurors in the Howe case heard evidence of drugs in the complainant's system on Friday.

Christopher Keddy, a forensic toxicologist with the RCMP, analyzed blood and urine samples taken from the complainant about 24 hours after the alleged assault.

The complainant said she met up with Howe and his friend Jeffery Brown at a bar in Fairview that night in 2011. She said  afterwards, they all went for a drink at Howe's law office before returning to her apartment.

The court has heard the complainant returned to her apartment with Howe, who was later joined by Brown.

The prosecution estimates the complainant consumed about 240 millilitres of alcohol over two and a half hours.

Given her weight and height, Keddy estimated a wide possible range of blood alcohol values at the time the alleged assault took place. At the high-end his estimate was more than one and a half times the legal limit to drive a car. 

No drugs or alcohol were found in the complainant's blood, however traces of morphine and codeine were found in her urine sample.

The forensic toxicologist said that makes sense because traces of drugs can remain in the bladder hours after they've left of the circulatory system. Keddy also explained that a certain portion of codeine is metabolized to morphine in a person's blood by their liver. 

The defence said issues of intoxication are connected to the complainant's ability to consent.

"Whether or not she was awake, or able to make decisions on her own, is paramount in this," said Defence lawyer Mike Taylor. "There's also an issue of whether a substance was even introduced into her body by way of Mr. Howe or anyone else, so it's extremely significant."

Lyle Howe has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and administering a stupefying drug. (CBC)

Jurors also heard from the Halifax police officer who collected evidence from the complainant's apartment.

Besides condoms and wrappers, he seized one of Howe's business cards.

It's taken nine days, so far, for the prosecution to present its case.

On Tuesday, the trial resumes and the forensic toxicologist is expected to further explain the drug results.

Thursday's forensics and nurse witnesses

Katharine Murphy, an expert in DNA and comparing bodily fluids, began her testimony Thursday. She told the court that DNA from Howe was found in two of the condoms submitted for analysis and on the complainant's blazer.

A nurse from the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre who examined the complainant about 24 hours after the alleged assault also testified Thursday. She told the court the woman had bruises on her breastbone and breast, and there were physical signs of possible intercourse.

The alleged victim has testified she woke up after a night out with Howe and another man with little memory of what happened after they returned to her apartment.

The complainant testified earlier in the trial that she found condoms around the apartment and suspected she’d been sexually assaulted.