(PUBLICATION BAN IN CASE)
Following a judge-alone trial, the appellant, Mr. Hay, was acquitted of one count of sexual assault under s. 271 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46. The appellant conceded that the complainant did not consent to anal intercourse on September 13, 2019. The only issue on appeal was whether Mr. Hay had an honest but mistaken belief in the complainant’s communicated consent. Following a s. 276 voir dire, the trial judge admitted evidence of a previous sexual encounter on August 24, 2019.
The trial judge found there was an air of reality to the appellant’s defence of honest but mistaken belief in communicated consent. She concluded that the Crown had failed to prove the necessary mens rea and acquitted him. The Court of Appeal unanimously allowed the appeal, quashed the acquittal and entered a conviction for sexual assault. It found the trial judge erred in law both by admitting the evidence of previous sexual conduct and by finding there was an air of reality to the defence of honest but mistaken belief in communicated consent.
Criminal law - Offences, Evidence, Defences - Criminal law — Offences — Sexual assault — Consent — Evidence — Defence — Whether the Court of Appeal of Alberta erred by conflating the actus reus for sexual assault (consent) with the mens rea (belief in communicated consent or a mistaken belief in communicated consent) — Whether the Court of Appeal of Alberta erred by reversing the trial judge’s decision admitting evidence of previous sexual acts on the s. 276 application — Whether the Court of Appeal of Alberta erred by reversing the criminal standard of proof to place an onus on the appellant to establish his innocence — Whether the Court of Appeal of Alberta erred in substituting its own view of the facts contrary to the trial judge’s findings in relation to the testimony of the appellant — Whether the Court of Appeal of Alberta erred by requiring proof of explicit consent as a prerequisite for the defence of mistaken belief in communicated consent to apply.
(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right) (Publication ban in case)
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