Complainant in historical sex offence case faces tough questioning

Jaddus Joseph Poirier is shown at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Thursday. (Blair Rhodes/CBC - image credit)
Jaddus Joseph Poirier is shown at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Thursday. (Blair Rhodes/CBC - image credit)

The lawyer for a former Halifax school teacher conducted a withering cross-examination Thursday of one of two complainants who say they were abused by Jaddus Joseph Poirier, 81.

In Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax, lawyer Ian Hutchison asked the complainant five times if he was an honest man. Each time, the answer was an emphatic "yes."

Three times, Hutchison asked the complainant if he was making up his testimony. The answer was an equally emphatic "no."

In between those questions, Hutchison recounted the man's extensive criminal history that includes multiple convictions for theft and fraud.

The man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said most of his crimes were fuelled by his addiction to crack cocaine.

He told court about 70 per cent of his crimes were to get money to buy drugs and the remaining 30 per cent were to cover living expenses like rent.

He said he has only been drug free for about nine months, after an addiction of more than two decades.

Civil lawsuit

The man also testified that he has launched a civil lawsuit against Poirier and the Halifax Regional Centre for Education.

Under prodding from Hutchison, the man admitted his lawsuit probably stands a greater chance of success if Poirier is convicted of the historical sexual assault charges he faces.

Under questioning by the Crown on Wednesday, the man laid out a pattern of abuse he alleges he suffered when he was a student in Grade 8 and Poirier was his teacher.

He is the second man to testify at this trial. The first complainant described a single incident he alleges happened at Poirier's Dartmouth apartment around the same time as the other alleged abuse.

The two complainants know one another, but the man who testified Wednesday and Thursday denied suggestions from the defence that he and the other complainant might have discussed the case ahead of time to help shape their testimony.

Poirier is in poor health and uses a wheelchair. Court has been in session for half days to accommodate him.

Hutchison plans to finish his cross-examination of the second complainant when court resumes on Friday. But because of the shortened days, the trial will not be completed as planned on Friday. Instead, three days have been set aside next week to finish.

Poirier faces a second trial early next year on three other alleged historical sex offences dating from 1988 to 1990.

For anyone who has been sexually assaulted, there is support available through crisis lines and local support services via this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.