Court dismisses appeal of Halifax man convicted in infant’s death

The Canadian Press
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HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s highest court has dismissed an appeal from a Halifax man convicted in 2012 of injuring and causing the death of his infant daughter.

Ashiqur Rahman heads from Nova Scotia Supreme Court during closing arguments in his manslaughter trial in Halifax on Monday, April 23, 2011.

Ashiqur Rahman was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for aggravated assault and manslaughter after the trial judge found the accused lacked the empathy to understand he was injuring his seven-week-old child when he slapped and shook her in June and July of 2009.

During Rahman’s trial, the court heard that Aurora Breakthrough suffered brain injuries, bleeding behind her left eye and 27 rib fractures.

Judge Felix Cacchione of Nova Scotia Supreme Court said Rahman injured the child after he became frustrated by a series of business failures and the child’s crying.

In written submissions to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Rahman’s lawyers argued the verdicts were unreasonable or resulted from a misapprehension of the evidence.

They also argued that the trial judge should not have relied on testimony from Jane Gomes, Rahman’s former partner and the mother of the deceased child.

Justice David Farrar of the appeal court issued a decision Monday that concluded the trial judge’s findings were supported by the evidence and that Gomes’s credibility had been properly assessed.

Farrar said there was “ample evidence” for the trial judge to conclude the infant’s death was the result of abusive trauma.

“The conclusion that Mr. Rahman caused Aurora’s injuries and death does not result from a misapprehension of the evidence but is fully supported by the evidence of Ms. Gomes, the medical experts and Mr. Rahman’s evidence itself,” Farrar wrote.

His decision also rejects the suggestion that Rahman was convicted solely on the evidence provided by Gomes.

“In conclusion on this issue, we owe great deference to the trial judge in determining issues of credibility,” Farrar wrote.

“I am not even remotely persuaded that the trial judge committed any error in assessing the credibility of Ms. Gomes. To the contrary, his reasoning provides sound, logical explanations for accepting her evidence.”

Farrar also cited extensive medical evidence to dismiss the argument that the lack of external signs of trauma on the girl’s body were indicative of some other cause of death.

During the trial, the prosecution argued that the case hinged on Rahman’s credibility versus that of the baby’s mother, who testified she saw her ex-boyfriend slap and shake the newborn in the weeks before she died.

In exchange for her testimony, Gomes received a conditional discharge with six months’ probation for failing to provide the necessities of life.

Rahman met Gomes while the two were computer science students at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., in 2008. The couple started a relationship and moved in together in Wolfville. They later moved to Halifax, where Gomes gave birth to Aurora in June 2009.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Acadia University

Geographic location: Halifax, Wolfville

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