W.O. v. Her Majesty the Queen
(Ontario) (Criminal) (As of Right)
(Publication ban in case)
Criminal law - Appeals, Evidence - Criminal law - Appeals - Sufficiency of reasons - Evidence - Witnesses - Credibility - Whether the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in finding that the trial judge’s reasons in this case were sufficient and adequately explained why there was no reasonable doubt - Whether the trial judge erred in his approach to the R. v. D.D., 2000 SCC 43,  2 S.C.R. 275 and R. v. D.P., 2017 ONCA 263, cases - Whether the trial judge erred in failing to adequately resolve key inconsistencies - Whether the trial judge erred in failing to address the motive to fabricate.
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(PUBLICATION BAN IN CASE)
At trial, the appellant, W.O., was found guilty of sexual assault, incest, and sexual interference against the complainant, his daughter. The conviction for sexual assault was conditionally stayed. The principal issue at trial was the credibility of the complainant. In closing submissions, defence counsel raised three major areas of the complainant’s evidence, and one minor area, which he argued raised a reasonable doubt about the complainant’s motivation. The trial judge addressed the three major areas in his reasons, and despite the inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence, found her to be credible and reliable and was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the appellant’s guilt.
The appellant appealed from his convictions and argued that in addressing the three major areas, the trial judge over-extended or improperly relied on the principles from R. v. D.D., 2000 SCC 43,  2 S.C.R. 275, and R. v. D.P., 2017 ONCA 263, and in light of this error, “side-stepped” the inconsistencies in that evidence and failed to provide sufficient reasons for how he resolved them. The appellant also argued that the trial judge erred in failing to address the minor point and one of the defence arguments raised at trial. A majority of the Court of Appeal rejected these arguments and dismissed the appeal. In dissent, Nordheimer J.A. would have allowed the appeal, set aside the convictions and ordered a new trial due to the inadequacy of the trial judge’s reasons. In his view, the trial judge did not properly address the inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence or explain why he concluded that the offence was proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
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