Defendant in sexual-assault case fires both lawyers

Josh Pennell
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Sofyan Boalag says he lost confidence in counsel

Sexual-assault defendant Sofyan Boalag has fired both his lawyers.

Sofyan Boalag.

Boalag is charged with the sexual assault of five women and one teenage girl. He was picked up by police following reports that a man was sexually assaulting women as they walked home from downtown. He was arrested and charged in December 2012.

Jason Edwards and Tim O’Brien of Legal Aid have represented Boalag since that time.

“He does not want us to represent him anymore,” Edwards told Judge Pamela Goulding.

Exactly why Boalag suddenly needed new counsel wasn’t clear. In provincial court in St. John’s Monday, Boalag wanted to explain to Goulding why he wanted new legal representation, but Goulding said the explanation that he had lost confidence in his lawyers was enough.

Crown prosecutor Kathleen O’Reilly raised concerns about delaying the case, which was supposed to start Monday.

O’Reilly said the prosecution had people ready to take the stand and, given the nature of the charges, she was concerned about any significant delay that may occur.

“It’s taken a toll on their lives,” O’Reilly said of the people making the claims of sexual assault, adding that it’s been almost two years since the assaults are alleged to have taken place.

Goulding said she understood the Crown’s point, but there was little that could be done about Boalag wanting new representation.

Since he fired both lawyers from the St. John’s Legal Aid office, he can’t now be represented by anybody else from that office, meaning legal aid from outside the capital city has to be brought in for him.

Boalag is due back in court Aug. 25 to deal with the matter of his legal representation.

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