Defendant pleaded not guilty to 10 charges
An apparent lack of communication skills on the part of a former teacher’s aide charged with indecently assaulting primary school girls has led the defendant’s attorney to ask for an adjournment in the case.
Defense attorney Karin Thompson appeared in Summary Court on Thursday, when she asked for a special report to be produced before the trial of her client, who has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of indecent assault.
The alleged offenses took place at a government primary school in 2014; the girls were between the ages of 6 and 10.
The defendant was 19 when he first appeared in court last August. Ms. Thompson told Magistrate Grace Donalds that the case was for mention so that a trial date could be set.
The defense attorney noted that the defendant had been examined and had been found fit to plead in November. Later that month, he entered his not guilty pleas and elected trial in Summary Court.
However, Ms. Thompson said she had encountered a difficulty that was reflected in the “fitness to plead” reports – the defendant’s marked failure to engage in any meaningful form of communication.
The defendant’s lack of communication skills will have to be taken into account when his trial is conducted, Ms. Thompson urged.
The defendant needs to participate and provide instructions, she pointed out.
Government psychiatrist Dr. Marc Lockhart was prepared to assist because he knows the defendant’s background and history, Ms. Thompson said.
Dr. Lockhart could advise as to how matters could proceed, but first he would need an order from the court so that he could provide recommendations.
The attorney said she did not want this serious case to turn into “what may be perceived as a circus.”
She said Dr. Lockhart could advise on how to obtain the necessary involvement of the defendant so that he could defend himself in respect of the allegations made against him.
Crown counsel Neil Kumar was asked if he had any observations to make. He said Dr. Lockhart is a highly respected and capable practitioner. His only concern was that the matter not be unnecessarily delayed.
Ms. Thompson suggested an adjournment of two weeks. The magistrate directed that the matter be mentioned again on Jan. 28.
The defendant’s bail was extended until then, with no trial date set.
The Compass is not naming the defendant or the school because doing so could lead to identification of the alleged victims.