Nunavut man to receive new trial after sexual assault conviction overturned
Appeals judges find Lee Jordan Nauya’s jury received flawed guidance
A new trial has been ordered for a Nunavut man after he was successful in appealing his 2018 sexual assault conviction.
In May of that year, a jury found Lee Jordan Nauya guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in an abandoned Rankin Inlet mine on Sept. 8, 2013.
Nauya appealed his verdict in November 2018, and that appeal was heard on Sept. 15.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Nauya and his cousin approached a woman while she was waiting for a friend, then three went to drink alcohol and socialize at the mine.
The woman testified that Nauya and the other man coerced her to drink by holding her hands behind her back and pouring liquor down her throat.
She told the court and jury she was fully dressed before blacking out and that she did not consent to having sex with Nauya.
According to the judgment, Nauya later carried the woman, with her pants down around her ankles, along a street in Rankin Inlet. He left her on the ground when he saw a vehicle approaching, and the driver of the vehicle took her to the health centre.
She was later medevaced to a hospital in Winnipeg for hypothermia, according to the judgment.
Nauya maintains that the woman consented to having sex with him.
A panel of three appeals court judges found that judge Earl Johnson, who presided over the original trial, made a mistake when he instructed the jury before deliberation.
According to the judgment, Johnson failed to “separately and clearly” tell the jury that the Crown had to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Nauya knew the woman hadn’t consented to the sexual activity.
Although the Crown argued that Nauya’s guilt did not hinge on this, the judges found it was one of two main issues the jury had to decide in coming up with a verdict.
Not only did the Crown have to establish that the woman was incapacitated and incapable of consenting, it also had to persuade jurors that Nauya “knew, was willfully blind, or reckless that the complainant was incapable of consenting due to her incapacity,” states the judgment.
“This omission was a significant error in law on the facts of this case.”
Nauya is scheduled to appear in court next on Feb. 1 in Iqaluit, where a new trial will be scheduled.