An honest and mistaken belief of consent should not be a defence for a man accused of sexual assault, said Crown counsel, in closing arguments on Monday in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
Matthew Allan Buxton is charged with the alleged sexual assault of a woman in October 2016 following a night of drinking at a local bar. A group of four people, including Buxton and the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, left the bar and went to his home, where the alleged incident occurred.
Justice Anthony Saunders is presiding over the proceedings as well as a jury composed of seven men and five women.
Buxton’s defence lawyer, Bobby Movassaghi, will give his closing arguments on Tuesday.
Jillian Vivian summarized the Crown’s position and interpretation of the evidence, comparing it to a jigsaw puzzle that needs to be pieced together.
Vivian walked through the evidence provided by crown witnesses that included the alleged victim, Buxton’s roommate, responding RCMP officers and a video warrant statement Buxton gave to a police officer.
“The question becomes, what pieces do you keep, how do you piece them together and what picture you create,” Vivian said.
Vivian says the alleged victim testified she was drinking at a local bar and went out for a cigarette, which was her last memory.
A group of people, including the alleged victim, left the bar and went to Mr. Buxton’s home to continue drinking.
At some time after arriving, Vivian says the woman passed out on a mattress in Buxton’s bedroom.
“This passing out on his mattress in his bedroom is clearly a reaction to her significant intoxication,” Vivian said.
Buxton’s roommate, who was in his own bedroom, testified he heard Buxton in the hallway articulating obscene phrases.
Vivian said Buxton entered his bedroom where the alleged victim was passed out and forced non-consensual sexual intercourse, who woke up and reacted by screaming and protesting, said Vivian, pointing to corroborating evidence from Buxton’s roommate.
Crown counsel also said Buxton forcefully held a pillow over the woman’s head and made threats that she wasn’t leaving and that he would kill her.
Vivian said Buxton did not have an honest and mistaken belief of consent.
“He was, at the very least, reckless and willfully blind to her lack of consent or her inability to consent,” Vivian said. “Even if there was some basis to find that he had an honestly held belief of consent, such a belief arose only from his advanced state of self-induced intoxication, and therefore, at law, is no defence.”
Buxton’s roommate testified he called police, as two RCMP members soon arrived to find Buxton fully naked and the woman with her pants down.