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APPEALS - Grounds - Miscarriage of justice - Unreasonable verdict

Thursday, July 25, 2019 @ 8:09 AM  

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Appeal by the accused, Meloche, from a conviction and sentence for aggravated assault. The accused attended a house party hosted by his brother. He became intoxicated and aggressive, resulting in an altercation with his brother. The complainant, the brother's roommate, attempted to intervene, felt a blow to his stomach, and learned he was stabbed, suffering a life-threatening wound. The complainant did not testify as to who stabbed him but stated that the accused was in front of him, next to a knife block, whereas the brother was behind him. Witnesses testified that they saw the accused in possession of a knife. At trial, defence counsel requested removal from the record. The trial judge repeatedly advised the accused to obtain counsel, but the accused insisted he represent himself. The accused was convicted and sentenced to 40 months' imprisonment. He appealed on the basis that the verdict was unreasonable and that the trial judge failed to provide adequate assistance.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The sole reasonable inference available from the totality of the evidence was that the accused was the individual who stabbed the complainant. The trial was not unfair. The trial judge provided extensive assistance to the accused. She explained each step of the process to the accused. On two occasions, the judge provided the accused with a handbook for self-represented defendants. The trial judge explained circumstantial evidence in plain language, assisted the accused with respect to his questions regarding forensic evidence, explained his right to call evidence, including his brother who was under subpoena by the Crown, and provided a thorough review about the decision to testify or not. Any failure to specifically review the elements of aggravated assault did not render the trial unfair, as the primary issue at trial was identity. The sentence imposed was fit and within the applicable range.

R. v. Meloche, [2019] O.J. No. 3222, Ontario Court of Appeal, M.L. Benotto, B. Miller and G.T. Trotter JJ.A., June 21, 2019. Digest No. TLD-July222019012