Delays in collecting evidence against a Revelstoke man charged with a number of offences against children caused his arraignment hearing to be postponed a month.
“I just received further disclosure this morning so I’m not going to be in a position to enter a plea,” said lawyer Melissa Klages, who is representing the man in court. “The second difficulty with respect to the disclosure is I’m told Crown is saying there’s going to be more disclosure in the future because part of the pornography charges involve examining a computer.”
The man in question – who cannot be identified due to a publication ban protecting the identity of the victims and witnesses – is charged with four counts of possessing child pornography, two counts of accessing child pornography, two counts of sexual interference of a person under 16, one count of invitation to sexual touching of a person under 16, sexual assault and possession of marijuana.
The man was arrested as part of Operation Snapshot, a nationwide bust of 54 people charged with varying levels of child sexual exploitation. He made his first court appearance in July.
He is currently out of jail on very restrictive bail conditions that prevent him from entering his home, amongst other clauses.
His case was before the court last Wednesday, Aug. 6, though the man did not appear in court. Instead, he was represented by his lawyer Klages.
Klages told the court he intends to plead guilty, but is waiting for all the evidence against him to be disclosed before doing so. She said there was a backlog of investigations with the RCMP unit charged with investigating the accused’s computer, and that the investigation would only be moved forward if he entered a plea.
“He’s not in a position to enter a plea without having a grasp of the nature of the evidence,” she said.
Justice Mayland McKimm suggested he plead not guilty now, and that he could change his plea later. Klages did not do this out of fear the lack of an early guilty plea could be held against the accused — even though McKimm made a point to note on record the intended guilty plea.
McKimm said charter rights were being violated due to the delays in disclosure.
“How can we maintain restrictive bail conditions if the Crown can’t move this ahead? All matter of charter rights are being violated,” he said. “I understand why but is it not time to review his bail conditions if the investigative branch of the Crown counsel has this in a Never Never Land?”
Crown prosecutor Bill Hilderman said the man was allowed to apply to amend his bail conditions, but he has not sought to do so.
The matter was adjourned to the Sept. 4 court sitting, at which point the accused could seek an order for disclosure, McKimm said.