Sex assault trial underway
The trial for three men accused of sexual assault and other offences that stem from events alleged to have occurred inside a biker gang clubhouse in March 2011, got underway this week in B.C. Supreme Court.
Crown counsel Cassandra Malfair outlined the Crown’s case Monday before B.C. Supreme Court judge Sandra Ballance, providing a narrative of events she expects the court will hear about through witnesses and the complainant’s own account.
The incidents are alleged to have happened March 24, 2011 at a house on Fir Street believed to be a Renegades clubhouse.
Albert Donald Piche, 31, Julian Niskakoski, 19, and Adam Andrew Boyd, 21, all face charges of assault, sexual assault with a weapon, sexual assault causing bodily harm, unlawful confinement and administering a noxious thing.
All three men stood with their respective counsel Monday and pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all charges against them.
Malfair said on March 23, 2011, a group of young women attending a sports event agreed to go along to the clubhouse when one of them wanted to meet up with a man she knew to talk about a cell phone.
“The girls thought it might be ‘funny’ to go to a motorcycle clubhouse and (so) they agreed to go,” Malfair said.
Three of the women left soon after arriving, however the complainant and her former female roommate stayed behind – the only females among three or four males.
The ex-roommate, a key Crown witness, took the stand Monday and gave a number of “I can’t remember” and “I don’t recall” answers to several questions asked by Malfair. The witness said she consumed “vodka soda” the night in question and became “quite intoxicated.” She also admitted taking cocaine but denied consuming ecstasy. She felt sick, she said, and eventually passed out on the bed upstairs.
“How is your memory of the event that evening?” asked Malfair.
“Very blurry,” said the witness. However, under cross-examination by defence lawyer Keith Aartsen (counsel for Piche) the witness remembered much more.
Q. “You remember drinking?”
Q. “You remember taking cocaine.”
Q. “If there had been sexual activity surely you would remember that? – I appreciate that it is embarrassing.”
The witness paused.
“I wasn’t fully dressed at one point.”
“Naked?” asked Aartsen.
The witness told Aartsen there were three or four males present and at one point, she remembers the complainant being downstairs with them all. Asked about her inability to recall more details, the witness said, “we were drinking, on drugs...”
In response to other questions by Aartsen, the witness agreed that at no time did she see the complainant ingest cocaine involuntarily, or seem to be in any danger and that both women were free to leave when they got up and decided to go the next morning.
“You (both) left voluntarily?” Aartsen asked.
“Yes,” the witness answered.
In her opening, the Crown suggested the sexual acts took place on the couch (in the living room) and in the upstairs bedroom where the complainant was forced to engage in sexual acts with three men.
“She told (them) to stop and (they) put a hand over her mouth and told her to shut up,” Malfair said.
According to the Crown, the morning after the attacks, the complainant and her female friend left the house. Later that day, the woman “broke down” and went to her counsellor and was taken to hospital and examined, said Malfair.
The first witness Monday was RCMP Const. Phil Charron. He testified he was dispatched to UHNBC on March 24 to interview a woman who had been examined by a physician and had been administered what is commonly called a “rape kit.” As the initial investigating officer and exhibit man in the case, Charron identified for the court a number of bagged items seized at the scene under a search warrant, as well as a series of photographs he took at the house.
On cross examination, the officer was grilled by Niskakoski’s defense lawyer Jon Duncan about his task action report completed soon after his interview with the complainant, and Patricia Connor (counsel for Boyd) focused on the accuracy of “field” tests used to determine if cocaine is present.
Malfair said the Crown’s case is expected to take one week. The trial continues.