Nova Scotia

Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear sexual assault case tossed due to delays

The Supreme Court of Canada is refusing to consider the case of a Nova Scotia man who had a sexual assault charge against him dropped because it took too long to come to trial.

Nova Scotia judge had ruled time to bring case to trial violated 18-month standard

This woman, whose identity is banned from publication, says she was sexually assaulted by Jordan Michael Ellis in May 2017. The case was thrown out by a Nova Scotia judge due to delays. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

The Supreme Court of Canada is refusing to consider the case of a Nova Scotia man who had a sexual assault charge against him dropped because it took too long to come to trial.

Jordan Michael Ellis, 34, was charged on May 30, 2017. A woman alleged he raped her when he took her to a remote country road in Annapolis County.

His case did not come near a conclusion until August 2019, more than two years after he was first accused. The trial judge, Alan Tufts of the Nova Scotia provincial court, agreed with a defence motion that Ellis's constitutional rights had been violated by unreasonable delay.

The Crown appealed the decision to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, arguing Tufts should have attributed more of the delay to the defence. But in a ruling last December, the province's top court refused to reinstate the charge.

The Crown then applied to the Supreme Court of Canada in a last-ditch bid to have the trial go ahead again. But in a decision released Thursday morning, the court refused to hear the matter. As is usual in such leave applications, the Supreme Court offered no explanation for its decision.

The woman testified that Ellis sexually assaulted her on Spurr Road in Annapolis County. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

When Tufts originally stayed the charge, he applied the standard set by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 2016 Jordan decision, which set a time limit of 18 months to resolve matters in provincial courts.

The problem discovered at the Ellis trial was that there were pieces missing from the rape kit, the package of documents, photographs and forensic evidence collected by sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) who examine victims of sexual assault.

In this case, the 35-year-old complainant testified the SANE team had photographed her as part of their examination. However, the Crown could not locate the photographs, which eventually turned up in an RCMP detachment office.

Ellis's lawyer complained that he could not properly respond to the Crown's case without seeing those photographs.

Just days after the Court of Appeal ruling on Ellis, another Nova Scotia man, Regan Brant Tolbert, had the sexual assault charge against him stayed because it had taken too long.

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