The B.C. Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of confining and sexually interfering with a young boy in his care while in Prince George.
In a decision issued Tuesday, a panel of three justices found the trial judge "committed reversible errors in principle" by applying uneven scrutiny to evidence presented by the Crown and defence and by misapprehending evidence related to the complainant’s lack of memory of the incident.
The defendant, whose name is shielded by a court-ordered publication ban against information that might identify the complainant, was living with the boy's mother and effectively acting as a stepfather to the boy and his sister at the time of the alleged incident.
He was accused of not only locking the boy and his sister away in separate rooms in the home's basement but of tying them up and then forcing the boy to perform a sexual act on the him.
Upon returning at the end of the summer to live with his birth father, the boy told him he had been tied up and near the end of the same year said he had been sexually assaulted.
The boy's birth father and mother then went to the RCMP.
The accused admitted to placing, but not locking, the boy and girl in the rooms to give them a "time out," and denied the rest of the allegations.
In December 2020, a B.C. Supreme Court Justice found the man guilty of sexual interference and unlawful confinement and in March 2021, sentenced him to four years in prison.
B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson Dan McLaughlin reserved comment on whether Crown counsel will take the matter to another trial.
"We will be reviewing the reasons from the BCCA which were handed down today. We will have no comment before the review is complete," McLaughlin said.