Michael Ford
Criminal

Judge acquits Botting's client of sex attack charges

British Columbia criminal lawyer Gary Botting’s client was acquitted of charges laid in connection with a sexual attack on three women in Vancouver, the Vancouver Sun reports. Read The Province

Botting, principal of Gary N. A. Botting, Barrister and Solicitor, represented the 25-year-old man who was charged with break and enter with the intent to commit sexual assault in relation to an attack on three women in a ground-floor apartment in April 2016, says the newspaper. 

Another man, a co-accused, was charged with break and enter and three counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm. That man died later while in custody, says the article. 

At the trial for Botting’s client, the court heard that the co-accused was the main perpetrator in the attacks. It was that man, and not Botting’s client, who had broken into the apartment and sexually assaulted three female occupants, says the newspaper. 

“The issue at trial was whether the Crown had proven that [Botting’s client] was either a 'co-principal' to the attack and had entered the apartment with [the co-accused], or whether he had aided [the co-accused] by remaining outside the apartment and acting as a lookout for his friend,” says the Sun.

Botting told media outside court that his client, who he described as being naive when it comes to the kind of sex attack committed by the co-accused, had no idea what was in that man's mind.

“By the time it became clear what his options were, the police had already arrested him.”

Botting’s client was taken into custody on the night of the assaults after police responded to a 911 call, says the newspaper. Officers found him on the darkened patio of the ground-floor suite. 

“An officer testified that he saw [the man] exiting the patio door and when he asked what [he] was doing, [the man] responded: ‘Hanging out.’”

In his reasons for judgment, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lance Bernard said that the officer’s testimony was the only evidence the man was leaving the unit and noted the accused denied ever being inside. 

“There was no forensic evidence of him having been in the apartment and the three victims, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, never saw him inside the apartment,” the newspaper reports.

“I find that [his] evidence that he did not enter the dwelling might reasonably be true and it raises a reasonable doubt about his guilt as a co-principal,” Bernard said Tuesday of Botting's client.

The judge said there was no direct evidence he was helping his co-accused and noted that the man denied acting as a lookout.

Despite calling the accused’s story “unusual,” the judge acquitted him, News 1130 reports.

The radio station also notes that while the Crown claimed the accused was acting as a lookout during the sexual assaults, Botting argued it was the co-accused who was trying to frame his client.

“[My client] told the court ‘I tried to arrest him,'” Botting says, in an interview with AdvocateDaily.com.

When his client heard a scream and the co-accused came out of the apartment briefly, Botting says, his client grabbed him and said, “Come on, let’s go,” but the co-accused shrugged him off, Botting says. 

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