Stephen Hopkins attempts to block use of his DNA in sex assault trial

·2 min read
Stephen Hopkins, accused of sexually assaulting a teenager in 2020, has declined a lawyer for his trial. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Stephen Hopkins, accused of sexually assaulting a teenager in 2020, has declined a lawyer for his trial. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)

A Supreme Court judge spent Thursday guiding an accused man through the process of his own trial, essentially offering a crash course on law to the defendant as he tried to convince the court that police illegally obtained his DNA.

Stephen Hopkins, accused of breaking into a St. John's home in 2020 and sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl, has opted to represent himself and does not have a lawyer.

Hopkins's unpredictable behaviour so far in the trial, which began in early May, has included accusing Justice Donald Burrage of lying and referring to the complainant as having "lost the lustre of youth."

On Thursday, Hopkins, dressed in a dark blue penitentiary uniform, cross-examined a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary sergeant about the information he swore when he applied for a warrant to obtain Hopkins's DNA.

By late afternoon, Burrage increased his interjections as Hopkins fought to continue questioning the bewildered witness about his definition of honesty.

"The honesty is of question when the honest material is convoluted and misleading and superfluous, and could cause confusion and misguidance," Hopkins said.

"You need to show me or establish through cross-examination … how the evidence is convoluted, misleading, or whatever other adjective you used," Burrage explained.

Burrage continued to patiently guide the defendant through the legal process, at one point congratulating him for correctly identifying relevant case law about unreasonable search and seizure.

"Bingo!" Burrage exclaimed from the bench. "That's the test.… That's what I've got to apply."

Hopkins, prone to long-winded monologues and elaborate speech, at one point thanked Burrage for getting his line of questioning back on track.

"I live in hope," Burrage quipped.

Shortly after his foray into case law, Hopkins spent a chunk of the afternoon asking why the witness mentioned the complainant's dog in his affidavit to obtain the warrant, prompting outcry from the prosecutor.

"We've gone down a rabbit hole about the dog," objected Crown lawyer Jennifer Standen. "We're getting a bit off track, I think."

"A bit?" replied Burrage, peering over his glasses.

Hopkins to call at least 3 witnesses

If Hopkins produces sufficient evidence to convince Burrage to scrap the warrant, it may jeopardize the Crown's use of his DNA.

He'll continue his cross-examination Friday, and intends to call at least three witnesses to support his case, all of them RNC officers.

Hopkins was previously convicted of sexually assaulting two women on Long Pond trail, and was acquitted for attempted murder in 2014.

He was arrested in September 2020 for allegedly breaking into a Cowan Heights home and sexually assaulting a teenager after she offered him a glass of water.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting