Defence opens case at British sailor's sexual assault trial in Halifax

Defence opens case at British sailor's sexual assault trial in Halifax

HALIFAX — A British marine has testified that a woman who alleges she was gang raped by at least three sailors made a sexual comment when he knocked on the door of a noisy barracks room at a Halifax-area military base.

Cpl. Brandon Hubbs, a member of the Royal Marines unit of the Royal Navy, took the stand in Nova Scotia Supreme Court Thursday as the defence opened its case in the trial of U.K. sailor Darren Smalley.

Hubbs said he was trying to sleep at 12 Wing Shearwater, but there were "loud noises" coming from the room where the alleged sexual assault happened in April 2015.

He said he and another member of the British navy hockey team, who were in the Halifax area participating in a naval hockey tournament, knocked on their door around 12:30 p.m. on April 10, 2015.

"(My teammate) said 'Keep the noise down,' and (the complainant) said something along the lines of, 'You're just jealous you're not getting some'," said Hubbs.

Hubbs, testifying in uniform by video link from an unspecified location, said he recognized the voice as the complainant in the case because he saw and heard her in the hallway earlier.

Smalley, 38, is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and participating in a sexual assault involving one or more people.

Hubbs told the court that the lights were off in the room, but he could see inside after the door was opened.

"Darren Smalley was around his bed. I can't recall if he was sitting or standing. There was a figure in Simon Radford's bed. I couldn't tell who it was, but it sounded like (the complainant) just by her voice. There were no other females in the room as far as I know," said Hubbs, adding that two other sailors were in the room and on their respective beds.

The complainant, whose name is protected by a publication ban, has testified she went to sleep in the bed next to Radford, and awoke to at least three men sexually assaulting her.

After the conversation in the doorway, Hubbs said he walked back to his own room and went to sleep.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Cheryl Schurman, Hubbs agreed there were four other women in the barracks that night, and that he didn't know what their voices sounded like because he didn't speak to them.

Schurman pressed Hubbs about the details of his testimony and appeared to point to inconsistencies.

She noted he told police during an interview days after the alleged assault that he was 70 to 90 per cent sure the woman in Radford's bed was the complainant, but on the stand Thursday, he testified he was 90 per cent sure.

Schurman also asked if anyone was having sex when he looked into the room.

Hubbs responded: "Not that I could see, nope."

The trial is not sitting on Friday. More defence witnesses are expected to be called when proceedings resume on Monday.

The case once involved four accused, but charges against Radford were stayed earlier in the trial because he was in hospital with a serious infection. The charges can be reinstituted within one year.

Charges against two other sailors have been dropped.

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Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press