Errington Webster, convicted by a jury in June of indecent assault and gross indecency, had his sentencing adjourned again when he appeared before Justice Charles Quin on Thursday.
The reason was to give Webster time to get a new attorney and provide instruction after Justice Quin granted leave for trial attorney Steve McField to withdraw from the case.
The matter was set for mention again on Dec. 1.
Webster has been in custody since his conviction for offenses involving a young teenaged girl who gave evidence of three occasions on which the defendant had assaulted her; she also provided a cellphone video of him performing a grossly indecent act in her presence.
Crown counsel Darlene Oko said it was in the public interest for sentencing to take place within a reasonable time because of the impact on the victim and witnesses as well as the community that had taken interest in the case.
The court was also advised that Webster had applied for legal aid.
Mr. McField told the court that after the trial, he had talked with Webster and his family about the expenses of the case and the amount of research he would have to do for the sentencing hearing. They told him they did not have a lot of funds, but would arrange for monthly payments. He told them he would continue, and then he never heard another word.
Not only did they not contact him, but he had information that they had not done so because they were unhappy with the result of the trial, Mr. McField said.
Justice Quin cited defendant/lawyer confidentiality and said he had no appetite to enter further into the dispute. “If they can’t resolve their differences, I’m not going to force them,” he said later.
Mr. McField said he was not prepared to do the case for legal aid rates, but it was not the funds – it was the fact that Webster and the people he put in the position to look after his business had completely walked away from their responsibility “because the jury did not give them the result they wanted.”
He declared, “If they paid me a million dollars, I would not stay in this case.”
Mr. McField said he was seeking to withdraw for ethical reasons. His relationship with the defendant and his family had completely broken down and he would not defend Webster ever again. Justice Quin said the fairest thing was to allow Mr. McField to come off record.