Preliminary hearing underway for British sailors accused of sex assault

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WATCH ABOVE: Four British sailors accused of gang raping a young Nova Scotian woman are back in our region. The preliminary hearing into the high profile case officially got underway today in Dartmouth Provincial Court. Global's Natasha Pace has more – Apr 15, 2016

The preliminary hearing for four British sailors accused of a group sexual assault opened Friday in Dartmouth.

“The purpose is to test the crown’s case to see whether or not it’ll be committed to trial,”said Scott Morrison, Crown Attorney.

“At the end of the day, the court will be asked to determine whether some, none or all of these men will be sent to Supreme Court for trial.”

Simon Radford, Joshua Finbow, Darren Smalley and Craig Stoner are all charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm.

The men are accused of gang-raping a young woman in a barracks at CFB Shearwater on April 10, 2015.

READ MORE: 4 British Navy sailors charged in alleged Shearwater sexual assault

The only witness to take the stand on Friday was the alleged victim of the assault, whose identity is protected.

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Where the case is currently in the preliminary stage, all evidence presented during the hearing is protected under a publication ban and cannot be reported on.

“We have a good case,” said Morrison outside court on Friday. “So obviously, we’re going to push it forward as far as the law and the evidence allows.”

WATCH: Group sexual assaults more common than many believe: Halifax organization

Five days have been set aside to hear evidence in the case. It’s anticipated between 10 to 15 witnesses will take the stand and testify.

The British sailors were in the Halifax-area for a hockey tournament last year.

Following the charges, all four were granted bail by a Supreme Court judge and allowed to return to the U.K., providing they abide by a number of release conditions.

“One of those conditions require that they come to this area 5 days, at least 5 days before any hearing that they have to be present in. So they’ve been here, by their conditions for at least five days,” said Eric Taylor, Crown Attorney.

WATCH: 3 British Navy sailors charged in alleged gang rape can return home to U.K.

Testimony will continue in the preliminary hearing next week. After weighing all the evidence, a provincial court judge will determine whether or not the case should proceed to trial.


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