Nova Scotia

Ontario businessman convicted of sex offence in Halifax hotel involving underage girl

Paul Christopher Coburn, 48, has been convicted of a sex offence involving a 15-year-old girl after he used an online classified website to hire a masseuse to come to his hotel room in downtown Halifax.

Paul Christopher Coburn, 48, guilty of single count involving incident at Halifax hotel

Paul Christopher Coburn is shown at Halifax provincial court on April 23, 2019. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

An Ontario businessman has been convicted of a sex offence involving a 15-year-old girl, after he used the online classified website Craigslist to hire a masseuse to come to his hotel room in downtown Halifax in February 2017.

Judge Elizabeth Buckle on Tuesday found Paul Christopher Coburn, 48, guilty of communicating for the purposes of buying sexual services on the internet, but acquitted him of four other sex-related charges.

Buckle said she was not yet prepared to release the reasons behind her decision, although she hoped to have them ready by the end of this week.

Coburn testified earlier this year at his trial in Halifax provincial court that he thought the masseuse was in her 20s. He said he was only looking for a massage and claimed she initiated a sexual encounter

Coburn, a financial adviser who lives in Oakville, Ont., was in Halifax for business purposes at the time. 

The girl had been forced into prostitution by another man who sent her to Coburn's hotel room. Leeanthon Oliver, has been convicted of human trafficking in relation to the girl and he is serving an eight-year sentence.

December sentencing

Crown prosecutor Carla Ball said the charge Coburn was convicted of, communicating for the purposes of buying sexual services on the internet, is unique. 

"It's very rare to catch a person who is actually communicating on the internet," Ball said outside of court. "So the Crown is pleased that the court did in fact find that Mr. Coburn was responsible for seeking out and communicating to obtain sexual services."

Neither Coburn, nor his lawyer, Joel Pink, offered any comment on the ruling.

Pink has requested a pre-sentence report, which has delayed sentencing until December.

Ball said without seeing the judge's reasons, it's difficult to determine an appropriate sentencing recommendation.

"Because of its unique nature we will to do significant research," Ball said. "The sentence could be a range of anything at this point, anything from probation to jail, really."

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