‘No more delays’

Judge grants another delay in sexual assault trial, but warns it will be the last

Published on January 19, 2016

A judge has granted a St. Lawrence man’s request to postpone his child luring and sexual assault trial, but not without also giving him a stiff warning.

“No more delays,” Justice Robert Hall told Bradley Giovannini today when his case was called in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s. “(Another postponement) can’t be done …

“Get this matter on once and for all.”

Giovannini — who is out on bail — is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl after persuading her to meet with him almost four years ago.

The charges include child luring via computer, sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching. The alleged offences occurred in June 2012 after Giovannini made contact with the girl over the Internet.

Giovannini’s trial was supposed to have gotten underway Monday. However, when proceedings began, the 32-year-old asked to reschedule it because he wanted a new lawyer.

He wanted to dismiss Legal Aid lawyer Tony St. George and hire private defence lawyer David Power.

Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves objected to the delay, pointing out that this is the third time the trial has been set and postponed at the last minute. It was originally set to begin Oct. 20, 2014, but was postponed when Power was off due to illness. It was rescheduled to Feb. 2, 2015, when Giovannini and Susan O’Dea, his lawyer at the time, parted ways.

Hall said he would consider Giovannini’s request and render his decision the next day.

Today, the judge first spoke to Steeves, St. George and Power privately in his chambers before proceedings began.

When they returned, Hall explained the difficulties in deciding what to do in such cases.

“Situations like this are a double-edged sword, as two areas of consideration have to be taken into consideration,” Hall said, referring to the accused’s rights to a fair trial and the public’s rights to a speedy outcome.

“The issue really is to find balance that can result in as much fairness as possible.”

He said he has to keep the public’s interests in mind.

“This matter is almost four years old,” the judge said. “Society has the right to see the matter proceed expeditiously.”

However, he noted, “the real frustration” is that a young complainant and other witnesses have showed up twice before, anticipating a trial only to be told it’s been called off again.

“The complainant simply wants to get this matter over with.”

However, Hall said it’s “paramount” that Giovannini get a fair trial. That wouldn’t happen, he said, if Giovannini represented himself, since the trial is expected to deal with complex issues, such as medical, DNA and electronic evidence.

“He would not have the training or competence (to deal with such complicated legal issues),” Hall said.

The judge said “by the grace of God,” court time has been made available in March for the trial.

The trial will now be held March 21-24.

“While I would’ve preferred this trial commence (now),” the judge said, “this is the second-best alternative to that one.”

However, just in case Power can’t represent Giovannini for some reason, Hall did make some provisions.

He said St. George would stay on to cross-examine witnesses, since accused individuals are not permitted to cross-examine complainants under the age of 18.

An amicus (mediator) would also be appointed if necessary, he said.

Twitter: @TelyCourt