'She told me she had fun:' Halifax lawyer takes stand in own defence at sexual assault trial
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The question of credibility is emerging as a central issue as Halifax defence lawyer Lyle Howe took the stand at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Monday to testify at his own sexual assault trial.
Following a lengthy 11 days of testimony, Lyle Howe shared with the court his version of the events surrounding the 2011 alleged incident that led to his being charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a teenage woman.
With so many conflicting reports, Howe’s defence attorney Mike Taylor agreed the trial would in large part hinge on believability — namely Howe’s versus that of the alleged victim.
“Credibility is a big issue in this case,” said Taylor outside of court.
“The jury is going to … need to have something to consider against the backdrop of the evidence of the complainant.”
The Crown spent much of the afternoon pointing out discrepancies between Howe’s testimony and that of other witnesses.
During one especially heated exchange Howe explained: “My story is different … because mine is the truth.”
According to Howe, he and friend Jeff Brown arranged to meet the complainant at a pub on March 20, 2011 and that he asked to see her identification to make sure she was of age to drink.
The Crown pressed Howe on whether he was motivated at all by making sure the 19-year-old woman was of age to consent to sex.
“Yes,” he admitted. “That’s probably something that crossed my mind.”
The court heard how the evening progressed, with Howe and the complainant engaging in “sexual touching” while playing pool at her apartment, which led to oral, anal and vaginal sex.
“This is an uncomfortable area for me to discuss,” said Howe while on the stand, as his partner of 12 years looked on from the courtroom’s public gallery.
Howe said he called Brown — who had by then left — to return, explaining: “I don’t remember what (the complainant’s) exact words were, but she indicated to me she wanted to have sex with both of us.”
The following morning Howe said he met with the complainant to return money, after learning Brown had stolen from a large pile of $20 bills piled on her bedroom desk.
According to the defendant, police contacted him in August 2011 to provide a DNA sample. He was arrested in November.
Howe said the first he heard of the date-rape drug gamma hydroxybutyrate — GHB — was during the Crown’s examination of their expert toxicologist, denying ever having seen or used it before.
“It was one of the worst experiences of my entire life,” said the 29-year-old lawyer about his arrest.
“She told me she had fun,” he added on speaking with the complainant the morning after the alleged assault.
The Crown will continue its cross-examination Tuesday morning.
Follow Metro Halifax’s @gwomand for live coverage from inside the courtroom.