Judge in court martial won’t deliver verdict until Supreme Court rules on related issue

A former army corporal who has been facing seven charges for two years, including sexual assault and voyeurism, must continue to wait for a resolution.

On Tuesday at Colin McGregor’s court martial at CFB Esquimalt, military judge Cmdr. J.B.M. Pelletier turned down a defence request for a stay in the case, based on the court’s failure to deliver a trial within 18 months.

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But Pelletier said he will not deliver a verdict until the Supreme Court of Canada has made a ruling in another case determining how the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affects charges laid under the National Defence Act. He expects the Canadian Supreme Court to make its ruling by September.

McGregor, now in his mid-30s, retired from the army and living in Victoria, was charged in May 2017 with seven offences: sexual assault, two counts of voyeurism, two counts of possession of bugging devices, disgraceful conduct and conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline.

A court martial went ahead at CFB Esquimalt and wrapped up on Sept. 19, 2018. Evidence was produced. Witnesses testified and faced cross examination. Lawyers for the defence and prosecution made their final arguments. But no verdict was delivered.

The day the court martial wrapped up, the Canadian Court Martial Appeal Court, hearing another matter, released a decision that said the National Defence Act is unconstitutional when applied in some criminal matters.

That decision has since been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, putting McGregor’s case in limbo as Pelletier awaits a final decision.

Court also heard a related civil suit is being prepared in Victoria against McGregor.

The offences in the case are alleged to have occurred between July 1, 2011, and Jan. 30, 2017, in Victoria and in Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

McGregor lived in Alexandria when he worked as a resource-management support clerk with the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in Washington, D.C.

Canadian military police, co-operating with Alexandria police and acting under the authority of a search warrant issued in Virginia, searched his Alexandria residence and seized a number of devices, including spy cameras, a laptop computer and hard drive.

Outside the courtroom, McGregor’s lawyer, David Hodson, said his client has always denied the charges.

“We have pleaded not guilty,” said Hodson. “We have denied those allegations and fought them at every level.”

He also said the past two years have been very hard on McGregor, who faces a possible prison term.

“He denies the charges and he wants a verdict,” said Hodson. “There needs to be some finality.”

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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