Snelgrove trial continues, as jury deliberations to enter Day 3

·2 min read
The jury of a trial for RNC Const. Doug Snelgrove, accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated civilian, has been sequestered since Thursday afternoon. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
The jury of a trial for RNC Const. Doug Snelgrove, accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated civilian, has been sequestered since Thursday afternoon. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)

The jury deciding the verdict in a prolonged sexual assault case in Newfoundland and Labrador hasn't yet made up its mind, as the 12-person panel carries their debate into the weekend.

Reporters caught a glimpse into that secretive discussion twice at Supreme Court on Friday, as the jurors emerged to ask the judge questions about how to apply the law to the facts of this case.

If the jury reaches a verdict, they will decide the fate of Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer Doug Snelgrove, who was arrested in 2015. The complainant has testified she was too intoxicated to remember consenting to sex, and only "came to" to discover Snelgrove, an on-duty police officer who gave her a ride to her apartment, having intercourse with her.

The police officer testified that the two had consensual sex and that the woman appeared sober.

The jury is tasked with shuffling through contrasting testimony from the complainant and Snelgrove, as well as testimony from RNC officers, friends and acquaintances of the complainant who saw or spoke to her that night, and evidence from a toxicologist knowledgeable about alcohol consumption.

Justice Vikas Khaladkar instructed them Thursday, just prior to sequestration, that they can accept none, some, or all of the evidence presented to them.

But the evidence they do accept must add up to proving Snelgrove applied sexual force without consent.

That's where the jury appeared to falter Friday, asking Khaladkar twice about the definition of reasonable doubt.

The judge explained that jurors must apply logic and common sense to the evidence they accept, and in doing so, that must show Snelgrove without doubt broke the law by engaging in sexual activity without obtaining consent.

In Canadian law, a person cannot consent if they are unconscious, asleep, severely drunk to a point of incapacity, or induced to have sex because a person abuses a position of trust or authority.

Khaladkar previously said the jury should take it as a given that Snelgrove, as an on-duty police officer, holds a position of authority over the complainant.

The larger question, he told them, is whether the evidence shows he abused that position to gain the woman's trust, and whether those feelings of trust then influenced her decision to have sex with him, when she would not otherwise have done so.

This is the third trial for the police officer. He was acquitted in 2017, but that appeal was overturned due to a judge's error. A second attempt in 2020 ended in a mistrial.

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