Stephen Hopkins, convicted of sexual assault, gets lawyer as Crown awaits psych evaluation report

·1 min read
Stephen Hopkins speaks to his lawyer, Jason Edwards, at Supreme Court on Wednesday. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Stephen Hopkins speaks to his lawyer, Jason Edwards, at Supreme Court on Wednesday. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Malone Mullin/CBC
Malone Mullin/CBC

Stephen Hopkins made a brief appearance Wednesday in the same St. John's courtroom where he spent six weeks on trial for sexual assault earlier this year, this time joined by a defence lawyer representing him.

Hopkins had previously refused a lawyer, insisting he was capable of navigating court processes and cross-examining witnesses himself. That decision prolonged the trial, sparking numerous delays and drawing repeated criticism of Hopkins's behaviour from the bench.

Hopkins agreed to seek assistance from Legal Aid after Justice Donald Burrage ordered that the convicted sex offender undergo a psychiatric assessment. The results of that evaluation, due next week, will inform the Crown's next steps.

Crown prosecutor Jennifer Standen has indicated she's seeking dangerous offender status for Hopkins, which would mean a minimum of seven years in prison and could keep him behind bars for life.

Over the course of his trial, Burrage repeatedly advised Hopkins to seek legal representation, most recently telling him he was "ill-equipped" to represent himself on such serious charges.

Hopkins was convicted on all counts, including sexual assault and forcible confinement, in June, with Burrage writing in his decision that he did "not believe a single word of Mr. Hopkins' testimony."

He found Hopkins guilty of forcing his way inside a Cowan Heights home in September 2020 and sexually assaulting the 17-year-old inside.

Hopkins and his lawyer, Jason Edwards, return to court Oct. 5.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador