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EVIDENCE - Admissibility - Prejudicial - Shifting burden

Monday, January 06, 2020 @ 9:02 AM  

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Appeal by the accused from conviction for sexual assault. The appellant argued the trial judge reversed the onus of proof and required him to disprove the complainant’s account. He argued that the trial judge erred in admitting into evidence his statement to the police and in concluding that it was voluntary and did not violate his Charter rights.

HELD: Appeals dismissed. The trial judge did not reverse the burden of proof or in any way put the onus on the appellant to disprove the complainant’s account but pointed out the numerous inconsistencies in the appellant’s own account of what transpired which led her to conclude that the appellant was not providing truthful or reliable evidence. There was no error in the trial judge’s conclusion that the appellant’s police interview was admissible in evidence as a voluntary statement and obtained without any breach of his Charter rights. There was no reason to interfere with the trial judge’s conclusion that the appellant was not detained when he gave his statement. The trial judge explained why she rejected the appellant’s contention that he had been ordered to attend at the police station, and his conflicting evidence about what he was told, which in some respects differed from what was depicted on the video recording of the interview. The trial judge’s reasons for rejecting the appellant’s evidence and her observations of what occurred during the interview fully support the conclusion that he was not psychologically or otherwise detained at the time of his interview.

R. v. Eaton, [2019] O.J. No. 5712, Ontario Court of Appeal, P.D. Lauwers, K.M. van Rensburg and C.W. Hourigan JJ.A., November 13, 2019. Digest No. TLD-January62020002