Paramedic convicted of Hants County sexual assault has appeal dismissed

Colin Chisholm colin.chisholm@tc.tc
Published on January 4, 2017

James Duncan Keats, convicted of sexually assaulting a patient, arrived at the Hants County Courthouse Oct. 26, 2015 to hear his sentence.

©Carole Morris-Underhill – TC Media

WINDSOR, N.S. — A former Kentville paramedic who was convicted in 2015 of sexually assaulting a senior citizen in her home has had his appeal dismissed.

Judge Duncan Beveridge, of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals, dismissed James Duncan Keats’ application to have evidence heard at his 2014 Windsor trial deemed inadmissible.

Keats was working as a paramedic when he was charged with two counts of sexual assault and two corresponding counts of breach of trust in relation to incidents said to have taken place between Sept. 1, 2012 and May 26, 2013.

The trial started Sept. 29, 2014. He was found guilty June 24, 2015 of one count of sexually assaulting a 71-year-old Mount Uniacke woman in her bedroom during a medical call. He was sentenced to four years. The other charges were dismissed.

In a separate trial held in a Halifax courtroom in 2015, Keats was found guilty of groping two patients in two separate incidents in 2013.

During Keats’ initial conviction in Hants County, the trial judge, Claudine MacDonald, considered a Q-Tip that was swabbed by the victim and contained Keats’ semen, as evidence in her decision.

Keats’ counsel during the trial did not object to the admissibility of the evidence at the time.

Keats’ appeal counsel, however, argued that the evidence was “inadmissible hearsay” and that the trial judge erred in considering it.

They argued that forensic experts who testified at the trial did not provide enough detail.

In the summary appeal court ruling, it was noted that: “The semen evidence was recounted by a Crown expert who had no first-hand knowledge. Another Crown expert who had that knowledge was not asked about what she had done. Her notes that recorded her observations were identified by the witness, but she was not asked to adopt them as being true.”

In reviewing the case, Beveridge found the evidence was admissible as the notes used were business records “made by a person who had a duty to make the record” who “had no apparent motive to mispresent.” Also, he said they would have been admissible under the common-law exception as well as pursuant to the principled approach of demonstrated reliability and necessity.

However, Beveridge did say in his decision that the Crown’s case was “careless” in its presentation of the evidence during trial.

Beveridge found that the trial judge had made no error and the appeal was dismissed.

The appeal was heard on Sept. 22, 2016 in Halifax and the decision was published on Dec. 29, 2016. It can be viewed online at: http://www.courts.ns.ca/Decisions_Of_Courts/documents/2016nsca94.pdf.

 

 

Fast facts

• James Duncan Keats was a paramedic for almost 20 years before sexual assault charges were filed against him.

• When Keats was sentenced in October 2015 for sexually assaulting a senior, he was required to provide a sample of his DNA and be registered with the National Sex Offender Registry for 20 years.

• He is serving a four-year federal sentence for the Hants County assault.