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Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Canada: Halifax man on trial for HIV exposure

A 36 year-old man is on trial before a judge in a Halifax, Nova Scotia courtroom accused of HIV exposure (aggravated sexual assault).

The judge will have to decide whether to believe him or his 37 year-old ex-girlfriend, who is the only complainant, and who remains HIV-negative.

The decision will be made on May 15th.

Story from the Halifax Chronicle Herald website below.

Defence lawyer: Acquit my HIV-positive client

Published: 2008-05-07

The lawyer for an HIV-positive Halifax man says there is more than enough reasonable doubt to find her client not guilty of aggravated sexual assault.

Blaine Arthur Holland, 36, is on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court for endangering the life of his ex-girlfriend by allegedly not telling her that he was infected before they had sex.

The 37-year-old Halifax woman, who cannot be named because of a publication ban, has tested negative for the virus.

In her closing arguments Tuesday, defence lawyer Nicole Campbell said there are two key points to focus on in this case: did Mr. Holland disclose his condition and did the couple have unprotected sex.

She said she has "difficulties" with the complainant’s credibility, which she challenged during the two-day trial last month.

Ms. Campbell questioned why the woman didn’t go to the police as soon as Mr. Holland told her that he had HIV, which the woman says happened in March 2006.

Mr. Holland, on the other hand, testified that he told the woman about his condition at the start of their relationship in March 2005 and she was OK with it.

"It seems this case always returns to reasonable doubt," Ms. Campbell told the judge.

But Crown attorney Mark Hareema argued that the complainant was "very clear" in her testimony that she didn’t report Mr. Holland’s behaviour because she thought he had just found out he was infected.

In fact, Mr. Holland was diagnosed in 1995 and had contracted the virus to his previous girlfriend.

The complainant said when she discovered the truth in September 2006, she went straight to the police.

Mr. Hareema suggested the judge not read too much into the woman’s actions toward the end of her relationship with Mr. Holland.

"Some of our most unwise decisions come out of love," he said.

Justice Arthur Pickup will deliver his decision in court on May 15.



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