Carl Douglas Snelgrove v. Her Majesty the Queen

(Newfoundland & Labrador) (Criminal) (As of Right)

(Publication ban in case)


Criminal law - Sexual assault - Consent - Charge to jury - Abuse of a position of trust, power or authority - Whether the trial judge erred in refusing to put s. 273.1(2)(c) to the jury - Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 273.1(2)(c).


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Mr. Snelgrove, a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer, was acquitted of sexual assault. The only issue at trial was consent. The complainant testified that she could not recall if she had consented or not because she had been too intoxicated at the time. Mr. Snelgrove testified that the complainant had initiated the sexual activity and that it was consensual. Based on Mr. Snelgrove’s position as a police officer, the Crown requested that the trial judge include in her charge to the jury an instruction on s. 273.1(2)(c) of the Criminal Code whereby a person’s consent is vitiated if the accused induced that consent by abusing a position of trust, power or authority. The trial judge refused on the basis that it would have been unjust to suggest to the jury that it could infer inducement in the circumstances, based on the evidence at trial, particularly when the complainant could not recall what happened. The Crown appealed successfully and the majority of the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial. White J.A., dissenting, would have dismissed the appeal on the basis that while Mr. Snelgrove clearly exercised poor judgment in engaging in sexual activity with the complainant, there was no evidence that he abused his position to induce consent. As a result, the trial judge did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on s. 273.1(2)(c).

Lower Court Rulings

February 24, 2017
Supreme Court of Newfoundland & Labrador, Trial Division

Appellant acquitted of sexual assault
October 17, 2018
Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador

2018 NLCA 59, 201701H0018
Appeal allowed; new trial ordered