Past sexual partner of Nova Scotia officer testifies at Garnier murder trial
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HALIFAX — A man who briefly dated Nova Scotia police officer Catherine Campbell was called to testify Friday about her prior sexual activity, as the defence closed its case at Christopher Garnier's high-profile murder trial.
The Crown alleges Garnier punched and strangled the 36-year-old Truro, N.S., constable inside an apartment after they met for the first time at a Halifax bar. The Crown also alleges Garnier used a compost bin to dispose of her body near Halifax's Macdonald Bridge, where it was found five days later.
In his opening statement earlier this week, defence lawyer Joel Pink told the 14-member jury that Campbell died accidentally during "rough sex" that she initiated in the early hours of Sept. 11, 2015.
Garnier, 30, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body.
Earlier this week, Garnier took the stand in his own defence, telling the jury that during sex play, Campbell encouraged him to choke and slap her.
Before the witness took the stand Friday, Justice Joshua Arnold instructed jury members that they may decide to use the witness's evidence to determine whether Campbell had an interest in rough sex.
The man, who's name is protected by a publication ban, told the jury he had sex with Campbell on two occasions, and at one point, he put his hand on her throat.
When he was asked by Pink to describe for the jury how he did that, he opened his hand and placed it around the front of his own neck.
Under cross-examination by Crown attorney Christine Driscoll, the man conceded that he did not put pressure on Campbell's neck, and he agreed when Driscoll said his hand was on her throat in a "caressing fashion."
He agreed that she never asked to be choked.
"She did not ask for domination? She did not ask for erotic asphyxiation? She did not ask for anything that you would think of as rough sex?" Driscoll asked.
"No," the man replied.
The witness testified that Campbell wanted to practice wrestling with him following their second sexual encounter, and that they were partially clothed at the time.
Pink pointed to a statement the man gave police after Campbell's disappearance, in which he told them he had bruises after having sex with Campbell.
But on the stand, the witness clarified his statement, saying he was bruised during the wrestling after they had sex.
"It wasn't during the sexual act," said the man, the defence's final witness.
The man said he knew Campbell before their sexual encounters, and he said both were sober at the time. He said the last time he saw Campbell in person was roughly two weeks before her death.
The man said they exchanged text messages and Campbell invited him over to her place on the evening of Sept. 10, 2015, hours before she met Garnier at the Halifax Alehouse. The witness said he did not meet Campbell that night.
Arnold had earlier explained to the jury that the circumstances in which evidence of a person's prior sexual conduct is admissible at a criminal trial is restricted to reduce the danger of prejudice and to protect their constitutional rights.
"That's because past experience has taught us that to this day, some still believe that a woman who has engaged in sexual activity with others is more likely to consent to sexual activity and is less worthy of belief. These assumptions are wrong and unfair," said Arnold.
"The evidence of (the witness) will be admitted for limited purpose. Depending on the testimony of (the witness), you may be permitted to use this evidence in determining whether you believe Ms. Campbell had an interest in rough sex."
Arnold told the jury they should not let the evidence of the witness influence their decision on any other issues in the trial.
"In fact, I must warn you that you are prohibited by law from considering this evidence for any other purpose other than the one I have explained," he said. "This is because this evidence may be very prejudicial if it is used for purposes other than those that I have described."
The Crown said it would not submit rebuttal evidence, which means the jury has heard all the evidence in the case.
The trial resumes Monday, when the Crown and defence are expected to make closing arguments.
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