WINNIPEG – Charges against a man accused of abusing a young girl for six years have been stayed because of an almost four-year delay in bringing the case to court.
The victim claimed it took place between 1996 and 2003 when she was between six and 12 years-old.
The accused, from a remote northern community, was facing several charges including sexual assault, sexual interference and uttering threats to cause death.
He was supposed to stand trial in April but the judge agreed with a delay motion filed by his defence lawyer, resulting in the case getting tossed.
The judge ruled the amount of time between when the charges were laid and the trial was set to conclude, 44.4 months, was too long.
“There really is no issue here. The gross period under review is August 1, 2013 to April 13, 2017. By anyone’s standards… that is an unreasonable delay,” read the decision from Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Dewar.
This is the first criminal case in Manitoba to have charges stayed following the Supreme Court ruling last year limiting the amount of time prosecutors can take to bring an accused to trial.
The case is one of around twenty in which delay motions have been filed by defence lawyers since then.
“As set out by the Supreme Court of Canada, anything in superior court over 30 months would be presumptively viewed as unreasonable,” said Alex Steigerwald, the defence lawyer representing the man in the case.
“The courts are sending a very clear message I think in this case, that an accused, an individual who has been accused or alleged to have committed an offence, their charter rights will not be trampled,” continued Steigerwald.
The crown has thirty days to decide if they want to have the decision reviewed but that usually doesn’t happen.
The accused and certain details of the case can’t be revealed because of a court ordered publication ban.