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of Nova Scotia's legal system after a sex assault case against him ended Thursday with the charge being formally withdrawn.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

  • Syrian civil war heats up as U.S. denounces alleged use of chemical weapons

    World News CBC News
    Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday. TODAY:Allegations of a chemical weapons attack by Syria's government spark international demands for investigation. Source
  • Jury finds Vermont man guilty of murder in wrong-way crash that killed 5 teens

    World News CTV News
    BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A jury found a Vermont man guilty of murder charges in the deaths of five teenagers Wednesday caused when he drove the wrong way on an interstate highway. The jury returned the verdict in the case of Steven Bourgoin on its second day of deliberations following a two-week trial in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington. Source
  • China's Xi Jinping tells his country to get ready for hard times in trade war

    World News CBC News
    China must prepare for difficult times as the international situation is increasingly complex, President Xi Jinping said in comments carried by state media on Wednesday, as the country faces increased tariffs in a bitter trade war with Washington. Source
  • Man graduates from university where he was once a janitor

    World News CTV News
    A newly-qualified nurse who graduated from the same university where he used to work as a janitor hopes others are inspired by his story of hard work and perseverance. Frank Baez started cleaning patient rooms, bathrooms and hallways at New York University's Langone Tisch Hospital on weekends as a 17-year-old high school student. Source
  • Niagara officer shot by fellow cop now facing criminal charges

    Canada News CBC News
    The Niagara regional police officer allegedly shot and seriously wounded by a fellow officer has himself been charged in connection with the incident. My brother's a 'monster,' man says of Niagara policeman shot by fellow officer Niagara officer charged with attempted murder in shooting of fellow officer Source
  • Top soldier acknowledges handling of Afghan memorial 'hit a nerve;' vows access

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Canada's top soldier acknowledges that last week's unveiling of the Kandahar memorial without the families of dead soldiers present hit a nerve. Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, tells The Canadian Press no insult or disrespect was intended. Source
  • Cyril Ramaphosa elected by South Africa's parliament, promises to tackle corruption

    World News CBC News
    South African president-elect Cyril Ramaphosa took steps Wednesday to crack down on corruption as the new parliament votes him to lead the country for a five-year term. South Africa's lawmakers were sworn into the legislative body in Cape Town following elections earlier this month in which Ramaphosa's ruling African National Congress party won a 57.5 per cent majority. Source
  • Winds shift as High Level, Alta., wildfire jumps in size

    Canada News CTV News
    Crews battling a massive wildfire near High Level, Alta., may be able to make some progress against the blaze Wednesday thanks to a slight shift in winds, officials say. Despite hot and dry conditions plaguing the region, a shift in winds out of the southeast is pushing the blaze away from the High Level community, allowing firefighters to attack the blaze. Source
  • New mortgage loans slowed in Canada but overall value is still rising, says CMHC

    Canada News CBC News
    The number of mortgage loans in Canada grew at a slower pace in the fourth quarter as housing activity cooled, according to a new report from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, but the value of all mortgages is still rising. Source
  • Marineland confirms walrus death, two deer killed in opening day stampede

    Canada News CTV News
    Controversial Canadian waterpark Marineland has announced the death of one of its walruses, days after “demonstrators” were blamed for causing a stampede that led to the deaths of two deer. The tourist attraction in Niagara Falls, Ont. Source