Application filed to stay sexual assault because of lengthy delay

Published on March 20, 2017


Truro, NS- An application has been made on behalf of a 47-year-old Onslow Mountain man that his sexual assault charges be stayed because the case has taken too long to be heard.

The man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was arraigned in 2014 on five sexual assault-related charges involving a minor. It has been nearly 32 months since he was initially charged, a period the Supreme Court of Canada ruled last summer as unreasonably long for a case to be tried.

Following the R vs Jordan decision, new rules were established stating that provincial court cases should be concluded within 18 months of the original charge being laid while Supreme Court cases should be heard within 30 months.

The application for the case involving the Onslow Mountain man is to be heard April 13. It falls within the 30-month time limit because it was originally scheduled to be heard in Supreme Court, before the accused elected to have it tried in provincial court.

The Jordan decision has resulted in murder and drug cases being stayed in other provinces because of lengthy delays within the system.

Martin Herschorn, Nova Scotia’s director of Public Prosecutions, said the Truro case is one of eight across the province where stay applications have been made under the Jordan decision.

In addition to the Truro application, four of the eight cases are from the Halifax region, two are in Antigonish and one is in Kentville.

Herschorn said the Superior Court decision was a “wake-up call to change the way we do business…” to ensure that matters where there is no guilty plea and which are proceeding to trial, be dealt with as quickly as possible.

“It’s of great interest to us,” he said of the Jordan decision, handed down last summer. “It’s preoccupied us since July of last year actually.”

In some instances major court cases have taken years to proceed to trial and some recommendations proposed have included reducing time spent on preliminary inquiries (which often take weeks) and getting rid of minimum mandatory sentences.

Herschorn said joint committees involving judicial stakeholders have been formed to look at ways to speed up the process and the province has introduced a number of measures to that effect.

One such measure instituted so far, he said, is a system known as the “Jordan ticker” which tracks and produces reports on the number of weeks and months of every case, from the time a charge is filed until its conclusion.

Twitter: @tdnharry