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Crown and defence differ on setting trial dates in Corner Brook sexual assault case

Mark Thompson lowers his head as he enters provincial court in Corner Brook on Thursday.
Mark Thompson lowers his head as he enters provincial court in Corner Brook in this file photo. - Diane Crocker

The Supreme Court of Canada Jordan decision with regards to the right of an accused to a tried within a reasonable time is something a Corner Brook judge said everyone has to be mindful of.

“Jordan is in all of our faces,” Judge Catherine Allen-Westby said in provincial court on Tuesday morning as Crown attorney Adam Sparkes and defence lawyer Robbie Ash differed on setting trial dates for Mark Thompson.

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Thompson, 25, is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, providing liquor to a minor and eight breaches of a recognizance.

He wasn’t present for the appearance and Ash indicated to the court that he would be representing him on all the charges.

Ash said he’d received some disclosure on the charges, but he wanted to find out what if anything comes out of an analysis of the complainant’s cellphone. The complainant is identified only by their initials in court documents and is under the age of 16.

Ash said the cellphone was seized by police on Aug. 2.

Sparkes said the Crown was prepared to advance the matter and that two days would be needed for trial.

As for Ash’s comments about the cellphone and what it may or may not contain, Sparkes didn’t think it was necessary to have that in order to advance the case. He said it’s always possible for more evidence to become available, but if they keep setting the matter over then it will end up a Jordan issue.

He made reference to Ash’s busy schedule, which led Ash to say it was not a delay tactic and whether or not anything is found on the cellphone would be very significant. He noted the analysis could take some time.

Sparkes said the potential is there that nothing exists and did not think it warranted any delay.

As the two went back and forth, Allen-Westby stepped in to say she recommended setting two days for a trial.

Ash said his refusal to set trial dates is a practice of his so that he doesn’t get significant disclosure on the eve of a trial, but if he has to change his practice, that’s fine.

However, without instructions from his client he was reluctant to do so and suggested setting the matter over for a couple of weeks to speak with his client.

Allen-Westby agreed and gave him until Aug. 28 at which time a trial date is expected to be set.

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