P.E.I.'s Court of Appeal has quashed a conviction of a man found guilty of sexually molesting three daughters of his former partner.
The man was sentenced last year to four and a half years in prison.
CBC is not naming him to protect the identity of the children involved. All three girls were under 16 during the years related to the charges.
The charges included sexual assault and sexual touching and were alleged to have taken place over several years.
Timing of statements an issue
In a written decision, Justice John Mitchell, speaking on behalf of the Appeal Court, ruled that it was up to the Crown to prove that a videotaped statement of one of the girls was recorded within a reasonable time after the alleged offences.
However, wrote Mitchell, the trial judge didn't hear any evidence on the timing of the recording before admitting it as evidence.
Mitchell said videotaped statements are important "to limit the number of times that a child witness is questioned by an adult." However he said, it's important that not too much time elapses between the alleged offences and the recording, since it could impact the child's ability to recall events accurately.
In this case the statements were videotaped between nearly two years and up to four years after the alleged offences, said Mitchell, but he said there is not enough evidence on the trial record to show whether that was "within a reasonable time" for the three witnesses.
Defence seeks man's release from prison
The man is still in a federal prison but his lawyer told CBC he is working on his release.
The Crown told CBC no decision has been made yet on whether to go ahead with a new trial.
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