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of Nova Scotia's legal system after a sex assault case against him ended Thursday with the charge being formally withdrawn.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


Latest Canada & World News

  • Looking past Trump, Clinton aims to help other Democrats

    World News CTV News
    DURHAM, N.C. -- Newly confident and buoyant in the polls, Hillary Clinton is looking past Donald Trump while widening her mission to include helping Democrats seize the Senate and chip away at the Republican-controlled House. Source
  • Fear and questions hang over doomed Calais migrant camp

    World News CTV News
    CALAIS, France -- Migrants prayed, plotted and played soccer together Sunday, a day before France starts clearing them by the thousands from a makeshift refugee camp that is doomed for destruction. But the scene that would pass for normal on another day at the slum-like camp in the northern port town of Calais nicknamed the "jungle" was anything but routine. Source
  • Cubs give us hope

    World News Toronto Sun
    If the Chicago Cubs can make it to the World Series, anything is possible. No curse is unbreakable, no jinx set in stone. This is hopeful news for the Leafs and the Ontario Tories. But, first, back to baseball. Source
  • Tour bus, semi crash in California [Photos] [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — A tour bus slammed into the back of a semi-truck on a Southern California highway early Sunday, killing 13 people and injuring at least 31 others, some critically, authorities said. The passenger bus was going much faster than the truck, but it’s not yet clear if it was speeding on Interstate 10 just north of the desert resort town of Palm Springs, California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele told reporters. Source
  • Stolen baby Jesus head returned after statue replacement went viral

    Canada News CTV News
    SUDBURY, Ont. -- The missing head of a statue of baby Jesus has been returned, and the bright orange clay head that replaced it has been removed. Gerard Lajeunesse, the priest at the Ste. Source
  • Man found dead, bound to bench, with ham on his butt, genitals put in tuna can

    World News Toronto Sun
    Police are trying to determine if a British man, who was found dead, with his body bound, partially naked and covered in deli meat near an airport in Spain, was the victim of a sexual attack and murder or whether his body was desecrated after he had drank himself to death, media reports. Source
  • 83 Nigerian soldiers missing after Boko Haram attack

    World News CBC News
    Senior military officers say 83 soldiers are missing after Boko Haram Islamic extremists attacked a remote base in northeastern Nigeria. Officers said the soldiers were unable to fight back because they were poorly equipped. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to give information to reporters. Source
  • Pentagon chief in Irbil for closer assessment of Mosul fight

    World News CTV News
    IRBIL, Iraq -- U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter visited Irbil on Sunday for a closer assessment of the fight against the Islamic State group in northern Iraq and to hear from Kurdish leaders whose forces launched a new offensive in the operation to wrest Mosul from the militants. Source
  • AT&T's $85B US bid for Time Warner sparks antitrust fears in Washington

    World News CBC News
    AT&T Inc's agreement to acquire Time Warner Inc for $85 billion US drew skepticism from both Democrats and Republicans on Sunday, making it more likely that regulators will scrutinize the effort to create a new telecommunications and media giant. Source
  • At least 13 killed, dozens injured in California tour bus crash

    World News CBC News
    A tour bus crashed into the back of a semi-truck on a southern California highway before dawn on Sunday, killing 13 people and injuring 31, an NBC affiliate reported.4 dead after steel pole slices through bus in California crashPhotographs from the scene showed the front of the tour bus wedged inside the back of the trailer, with emergency workers using metal ladders to reach the inside of the bus. Source