Summary

40941

His Majesty the King v. D.F.

(Ontario) (Criminal) (As of Right)

(Publication ban in case)

Keywords

Criminal law — Evidence — Misapprehension of evidence — Miscarriage of justice — Appeals — Sufficiency of reasons — Whether the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in finding that the trial judge misapprehended the evidence in a manner that resulted in a miscarriage of justice — Whether the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in finding that the trial judge provided reasons that were insufficient to permit meaningful appellate review.

Summary

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(Publication ban in case)

At trial, the respondent, D.F., was convicted of sexual assault, sexual interference, and making sexually explicit material available to a child, the complainant.

A majority of the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part. It dismissed the respondent’s appeal on the count of making sexually explicit material available to a child, but set aside the convictions for sexual assault and sexual interference and ordered a new trial on those counts. In the majority’s view, the trial judge did misapprehend the complainant’s evidence in a key area. This misapprehension was on a matter of substance, related to material issues at trial, and played an essential role in the trial judge’s reasoning process. Because of the misapprehension, the trial judge’s reasons did not deal with inconsistencies between the complainant’s evidence and that of her mother and this was a key issue in the case. The impact of the two related errors was such that the convictions for sexual assault and sexual interference had to be set aside.

Hourigan J.A., dissenting, would have dismissed the appeal in its entirety. In his view, there was no material misapprehension of evidence. Further, the reasons were sufficient as they provided an adequate basis for the court to consider the respondent’s submission and they explained why the trial judge was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Crown met its burden.

Lower Court Rulings

June 17, 2021
Ontario Court of Justice

20-6024
Convictions for sexual assault, sexual interference and making sexually explicit material available to a child
September 11, 2023
Court of Appeal for Ontario

2023 ONCA 584
Appeal allowed in part; convictions for sexual assault and sexual interference set aside and new trial ordered on those counts