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Justices overturn Ontario man's sexual assault conviction

An Ontario man will have a new criminal trial now that the Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned his 2012 conviction. It was alleged that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl nine years ago, and after the initial trial, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

However, the court of appeal found that the 14-year-old girl's mother tried to "trick" the man into confessing. The mother reportedly told the man that she "would understand" if the daughter was the one who initiated sexual contact. At trial, the mother testified that the defendant confessed to her and said that the sexual contact was instigated by the daughter.

The defendant denied the charges and denied that he admitted anything to the girl's mother. In a written decision, the appeal court justices noted that the "trial judge accepted the evidence of the complainant and her mother, and rejected that of the appellant." It was also noted that the trial judge should have assessed whether or not the defendant's alleged statement to the mother was voluntary.

The justices found that the outcome of the trial would not have been necessarily the same if the defendant's alleged admission had not been used as evidence. Therefore, the justices reasoned, the conviction on two counts of sexual assault should be set aside, and a new trial should be ordered.

More details on the case are available here.

Carefully analyzing how evidence was gathered and presented can be a crucial aspect of a strong criminal defence. Police, prosecutors and judges do make mistakes, and an experienced criminal defence lawyer can help ensure that such an error doesn't lead to a conviction.

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