Lawyer says blacks 'don't feel at home' in N.S. courts after sex case dropped

HALIFAX -- A Halifax lawyer questioned the racial fairness of Nova Scotia's legal system after a sex assault case against him ended Thursday with the charge being formally withdrawn.

See Full Article

Lyle Howe, who was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in 2011, was originally found guilty by a jury in May 2014.

Howe spent two weeks in custody after being sentenced to three years in jail in July, 2014.

His conviction was overturned on appeal last fall and a new trial was ordered.

"My family and I went through hell," Howe said outside Nova Scotia Supreme Court following a short hearing.

"I feel a bit of a weight lifted off but to be quite frank there is still a weight there that shouldn't be there."

Howe was critical of a legal process that saw "zero African-Nova Scotian" jurors in his case -- the lone black juror was an international student -- and he added that he had "huge issues" with a system that has a lack of black judges.

He said it appears little had changed in the decades since the Donald Marshall inquiry found systemic racism in the province's legal system.

"As a black person coming into this building (court) . . . I don't feel at home," said Howe. "We should feel that when we step into the court that we are actually getting a fair shake equal to what a white person would and I don't feel that way."

Crown attorney Dan Rideout said the decision not to proceed with another trial was made out of respect for the wishes of the complainant and that without her testimony there was no realistic prospect of a conviction.

"We had considered the unique nature of the case including several days of gruelling testimony that she had to go through the first time as well as other things that would have impacted and influenced her decision," said Rideout.

Howe disputed the Crown's reasoning, saying it could have compelled the complainant to testify and didn't because "there was no case."

During the original trial, the young woman testified that she was impaired and did not consent to sex with Howe at her Halifax apartment.

Howe argued that the sex was consensual, and the appeal court ruled that the trial judge should have instructed Howe's jury to consider the defence of honest but mistaken belief in consent.

The complainant's name is under a publication ban, but was posted on Facebook by a supporter of Howe. David Winslow Sparks, 62, was fined $1,950 and sentenced to a year's probation for breaking the ban last March.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Australian hiker rescued after crawling with broken leg for two days

    World News CTV News
    (CNN) -- An experienced Australian hiker crawled for two agonizing days, carrying his broken leg, to find help after falling down a waterfall during a solo mountain hike. Neil Parker, 54, was hiking on Mount Nebo, northwest of Brisbane, on Sunday when he tumbled six meters from the top of a waterfall, fracturing his leg and wrist. Source
  • Woman, 74, and boy, 15, among three people who allegedly killed a man

    World News CTV News
    TRENTON, N.J. -- A 74-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy are among three people who allegedly took turns shooting a man to death inside a New Jersey laundromat. Mercer County prosecutors say 74-year-old Eudean McMillan, 37-year-old Darryl Parker and the 15-year-old have been charged in the slaying of 21-year-old Geovahnie FanFan in Trenton on Monday. Source
  • Israel's election too close to call, Netanyahu falls short of parliamentary majority

    World News CBC News
    Benjamin Netanyahu was in a battle to remain as Israel's prime minister after exit polls following Tuesday's election showed the race too close to call and his decade-long grip on power slipping. Netanyahu's main election challenger, centrist Benny Gantz, said Wednesday it appeared from the exit polls that Israel's longest-serving leader was defeated but that only official results would tell. Source
  • Israel's 2 main political parties deadlocked after election

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel's two main political parties were deadlocked Wednesday after an unprecedented repeat election, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uphill battle to hold on to his job. The election's seeming political kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman, said he'll insist upon a secular unity government between Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue and White parties, who based on partial results are currently tied at 32 seats each out of the 120 in parliament. Source
  • Netanyahu faces uphill battle after repeat election

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel's two main political parties were deadlocked Wednesday after an unprecedented repeat election, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uphill battle to hold on to his job. The election's seeming political kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman, said he'll insist upon a secular unity government between Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue and White parties, who are running neck-and-neck to become the country's largest party. Source
  • Iran warns U.S. of response to any action over Saudi attack

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran warned the U.S. that any action taken against it following an attack on Saudi oil installations will "immediately" be met with a response from Tehran, its state-run news agency reported Wednesday, further raising Mideast tensions. Source
  • EU chief: The risk of a no-deal Brexit 'remains very real'

    World News CTV News
    STRASBOURG, France -- The risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a divorce deal remains "very real," European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker declared Wednesday as EU lawmakers debated the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit. Source
  • EU chief says the risk of a no-deal Brexit 'remains very real'

    World News CBC News
    European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker says the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a divorce deal remains "very real." Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Juncker, who met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, said a no-deal Brexit "might be the choice of the U.K. Source
  • Saudi Arabia promises 'material evidence' linking Iran to oil attack

    World News CBC News
    Saudi Arabia said it would show evidence on Wednesday linking regional rival Tehran to an unprecedented attack on its oil industry that Washington believes originated from Iran in a dangerous escalation of Middle East frictions. Tehran has denied involvement in the Sept. Source
  • Canadian Labour Congress exec calls to end sanctions in Syria

    World News CBC News
    The second in command of the largest labour organization in Canada attended a trade union conference in Syria last week and called for the end of sanctions against the country, which is run by an internationally condemned authoritarian regime. Source