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Two days spent in technical arguments in Castlegar child sex assault trial

The court heard petitions on evidence admissibility and charge accuracy
Technical arguments in Castlegar child sex assault trial took place at the Castlegar Courthouse Oct. 30 - 31. Photo: Betsy Kline

The trial of a Trail man accused of sexual assault against a minor continued in Castlegar court Oct. 30 - 31.

William Trowell is facing two counts of sexual interference of a person under 14 years old, two counts of invitation to sexual touching under 14, sexual exploitation and sexual assault. His trial by judge alone began in Castlegar court on Aug. 15.

The trial started with Crown presenting their case and calling a witness, but the trial was paused for a voir dire hearing after the defence asked for a stay of proceedings based on what they claimed was a breach of Trowell’s rights under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, thus not ensuring a fair trial.

That hearing took place on Oct. 11 and focused on whether missing police files prejudiced Trowell’s ability to defend himself.

Judge Craig Sicotte ruled that while the files would have been relevant to the trial and that a breach of Trowell’s rights had occurred, it was not sufficient enough to warrant a stay of proceedings which would have ended the trial without a verdict.

This week, two days were allotted to the trial in Castlegar court. They were taken up with arguments over evidence admissibility and whether all of the charges should stand.

At issue was the Crown’s application to enter Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) records into evidence as business records.

Trowell’s lawyer Troy Anderson argued the submitted documents should not be admitted, but also protested that there were procedural errors in how the documents were attached to an affidavit from the person who prepared them and how the affidavit was worded.

Judge Craig Sicotte ruled that the MCFD records were admissible, but agreed with the defence that the procedural errors needed to be corrected.

Crown ended up making two visits to MCFD to correct the errors.

The second issue was related to the charges against Trowell, specifically the locations and timelines tied to individual charges.

Defence argued that the Crown had not given any evidence that matched the timeline associated with counts one and two (sexual interference of a person under 14 and invitation to touching under 14) and petitioned that those charges be dropped.

The judge disagreed and allowed the charges to stand.

Further, the defence took issue with counts three and four (sexual interference of a person under 14 and invitation to touching under 14) and the geographical area attached to the alleged offences.

In response, Crown asked to be allowed to make an amendment to the charges, changing the location of the alleged offence from the Castlegar area to Prince Rupert.

The defence argued that the accused was misled and prejudiced in his defence because cross-examination of witnesses had already occurred. The cross-examination focused on an alibi based on the fact the accused was not present in the area where the alleged offence occurred according to the initial charges.

Sicotte allowed Crown to make the amendment.

He ruled that any harm to the defence was not irrevocable as remedies such as recalling witnesses could be applied.

As there were only two days of court time scheduled, the conclusion of the trial must now wait until new court time can be found, likely several months from now.

Trowell is a former Prince Rupert deputy sheriff and was the owner of Selkirk Security Systems at the time of his arrest. He has also been a member of the Canadian Naval Reserve and City of Trail’s Community Safety Task Force.

READ MORE: ‘What say ye?’: Man arrested at Castlegar court hearing for contempt

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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