Nova Scotia

Matthew Percy will not testify in own defence at sex assault trial

Matthew Percy, a former Saint Mary's University groundskeeper, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her dorm room at Dalhousie University in December 2014. He has pleaded not guilty and is being tried by judge alone in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Final witness, complainant’s roommate, testifies sound of slapping woke her up

Matthew Percy is shown outside a Halifax provincial court courtroom on June 19, 2018. He has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault causing bodily harm in relation to a December 2014 incident. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

The defence has closed its case in the trial of Matthew Percy and the former Saint Mary's University groundskeeper will not be testifying in his own defence as he did at two previous sexual assault trials.

Percy, 36, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her dorm room at Dalhousie University in December 2014. He has pleaded not guilty and is being tried by judge alone in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

Last week, the complainant, now 24, testified about meeting Percy in downtown Halifax while out celebrating her 19th birthday. She said they got takeout together and went back to her residence room. She told the court he raped her there and left her with bruises and bite marks. The woman's name is protected by a publication ban.

On Tuesday morning — the sixth day of the trial — defence lawyer Peter Planetta called one witness, a roommate of the complainant who had previously been on the Crown's witness list. Prosecutor Rick Woodburn declined to call the woman Monday when he closed his case.

The witness, whose name is being withheld in order to not reveal the identity of the complainant, testified she woke up in the early hours of Dec. 6, 2014, to what sounded like "moaning and slapping."

What the roommate heard

The Dalhousie student had an exam that morning and was angry about having her sleep interrupted. She told the court she normally she couldn't hear what was going on in her roommates' bedrooms.

She texted the complainant to keep it down.

The woman said she didn't hear anyone saying anything and didn't have any reason to think something was wrong.

Planetta asked if the sounds led her to any opinions or thoughts about what the people were doing.

"I assumed from the slapping and moaning that there were two people having sexual relations in that room, but I, being in a good relationship at the time, didn't expect anything other than that was happening in that room," she said.

'It takes a lot for someone to come forward'

She testified that later she felt badly after speaking with her roommate about what happened. She said they touched on whether she'd go to police.

"It takes a lot for someone to come forward and I think she was nervous about it," the woman told the court.

During cross-examination, Woodburn asked about the slapping, saying, "Was that the most prominent thing that woke you up that night?"

The witness agreed, adding "and it takes a lot to wake me up."

Defence lawyer Peter Planetta is representing Matthew Percy. (CBC)

Planetta asked about whether the roommate had ever seen the complainant stumble while she was drinking. The witness said she could be "a little stumbly" and had fallen down before after drinking while wearing heels.

Under cross-examination, the roommate said any bruises that resulted from a fall like that were small and nothing like the large bruises she saw on the complainant's neck and lower back after the alleged assault.

Lawyers will present their final arguments to the court on Thursday morning.

The CBC's Elizabeth McMillan live blogged from court. Warning: Some of the content in the live blog may be disturbing.

Percy testified in his own defence at two previous sexual assault trials. Both related to incidents in September 2017 and involved students at Saint Mary's, where he worked at the time.

He was convicted at the second trial of sexual assault and voyeurism. At his first trial, he was acquitted of sexual assault, choking to overcome resistance and voyeurism.

Percy has been in custody since November 2017 when he was charged in relation to the first two cases. He has already served a 2½-year prison sentence, but he's been denied bail while awaiting this trial and one other outstanding case scheduled to go to trial later this year.