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Crown appeals Snelgrove verdict in N.L. court

Douglas Snelgrove.
Douglas Snelgrove. - The Telegram

Prosecutor argues Justice Valerie Marshall erred in jury instructions, asks for new trial

The case of RNC Const. Douglas Snelgrove could be back before a judge should an appeal from the Crown be successful.

Snelgrove was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman while on duty in December 2014.

Crown prosecutor Iain Hollett made his case to the Court of Appeal on Friday, calling for a new trial in the matter. Snelgrove was not present for the hearing.

Hollett says Justice Valerie Marshall, who presided over the trial, erred in her instructions to the jury about the meaning of consent and how power and authority can prevent consent from being given.

Hollett pointed to Section 273.1(c) of the Criminal Code, which reads that “no consent is obtained where … the accused induces the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power, or authority.”

Marshall did not instruct the jury on the point before deliberation, the Crown says.

Hollett argued that because Snelgrove was a police officer, he was in a position of trust.

The woman testified at the trial that she got a ride home with Snelgrove after a night of drinking downtown because she felt being with a police officer was safer than getting into a cab.

Because of that, Hollett argued that Snelgrove was only in a position to commit the alleged sexual assault because he was a police officer.

Hollett also told the court that while Marshall referenced the possibility of the woman being unconscious, she didn’t draw the link between unconsciousness negating any consent given while she was conscious.

He says because Marshall didn’t instruct the jury on that point, the jury was misinformed heading into its deliberations.

Based on those two factors, Hollett says, the outcome of the trial was affected, and a new trial should be ordered.

Snelgrove’s defence lawyer, Randy Piercey, argued that based on the testimony in the case, Snelgrove was not the one who instigated the encounter.

While being cross-examined, the woman had said it was possible she consented, “because I was drunk so I don’t know how I would have acted.”

Snelgrove testified that he entered the woman’s home “to make sure she was OK,” and, once inside, the encounter was initiated by the woman.

Piercey argued the incident was not a sexual assault, therefore a new trial does not need to be ordered.

Snelgrove, who now resides in the Middle East, was suspended by the RNC after the trial. He didn’t mention to supervisors that he was driving the woman home, which is against RNC policy. He said in his testimony he knew it was against RNC policy, but continued anyway.

Justices Gale Welsh, Charles White and Lois Hoegg will submit their written decision on the appeal in the coming weeks.

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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