A.G.W. v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Alberta
(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)
(Publication ban in case) (Publication ban on party)
Criminal law - Criminal law - Appeals - Unreasonable verdict - Evidence - Credibility - Whether trial judge erred in law by failing to consider all evidence and its import in relation to ultimate issue of guilt or innocence and by failing to appreciate legal effect of factual findings - Whether trial judge erred in law by rendering an unreasonable verdict.
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The accused was charged with sexual assault with a weapon. It was alleged that the accused threatened the complainant with two 8-inch knives and held a knife to the complainant’s throat as he assaulted her. The trial judge accepted the complainant’s evidence that a sexual assault had taken place, despite the accused’s denial of the allegations. However, he found the complainant’s evidence that a knife had been used in the assault to be unreliable. Therefore, he convicted the accused of the included offence of sexual assault. The accused appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial judge’s verdict was unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence. The majority in the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. It was of the view that the reasons of the trial judge, in the context of all of the evidence, disclosed that he was mindful of and addressed the contradictions in the evidence, that he did not believe the accused and that the offence of sexual assault was established beyond a reasonable doubt based upon the evidence of the complainant. Berger J.A., dissenting, would have allowed the appeal, quashed the conviction and substituted an acquittal. In his opinion, the verdict was tainted by significant errors of fact and law and was unreasonable.
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