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Cross-examination of complainant continues at sailor’s sexual assault trial

Darren Smalley, right, a British sailor charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm, walks outside the court room in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. .
Darren Smalley, right, a British sailor charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm, walks outside the court room in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. . Andrew Vaughan/ The Canadian Press

A young woman was quizzed Monday about the people she spoke to after allegedly being sexually assaulted by several British sailors on a Halifax air base, from her family doctor to military police investigators.

The complainant confirmed to defence lawyer Ian Hutchison that a military police officer called to inform her about the results of toxicology and DNA reports.

She said she exchanged texts with the officer several times between the alleged incident, in the barracks at 12 Wing Shearwater in April 2015, and a preliminary inquiry in the case one year later.

The woman confirmed that an investigator told her during her second police interview that the stories among other sources were “consistent.”

“The police officer is telling you information about what other people have told police, consistency between your story and others?” said Hutchison, referring to a transcript of the interview.

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The woman replied: “Yes.”

READ MORE: Young woman testifies at Halifax trial she awoke to U.K. sailors performing sex acts on her

Hutchison noted that she spoke with the friend she was with in the barracks the morning after the alleged sexual assault about what had happened the previous evening, and had initially told police she was missing information from the evening in question.

He pointed out that she identified Darren Smalley’s voice during a second police interview. She previously testified she could not put names to her alleged assaulters during the first police interview.

Hutchison suggested: “It’s become apparent from your testimony and the review of your police statement that you’ve acquired a great deal of information about the night in question from other parties.”

Smalley, 38, is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and participating in a sexual assault involving one or more people at 12 Wing Shearwater. The case once involved four accused, but charges against two other sailors were dropped, while charges against another man were stayed earlier in the trial because of illness.

The men were in Halifax for a naval hockey tournament. The woman’s friend had invited her on a double date after meeting a British sailor on Tinder.

The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said she went to sleep in the barracks and when she awoke, at least three men were sexually assaulting her.

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The woman was also questioned Monday about her relationship with her family doctor, as she took the stand for a fourth day.

The complainant said she considered her family doctor a support person at the time of the alleged incident, and that their relationship eventually grew into her being a surrogate mother.

She said that she sent the doctor a text message after leaving the barracks in the early hours of April 10, 2015, and the defence suggested that she was in fact more than a support person at that time.

But the complainant disagreed with Hutchison.

“She absolutely cared about me,” she said. “I didn’t have any family… she was the closest thing I had, but at that point, we certainly didn’t have the relationship we did in 2016.”

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Hutchison noted that she testified during the preliminary inquiry in this case that she considered her family doctor a surrogate mother, and asked if her testimony has changed because she became aware that the defence would be critical of the “ethical nature” of their relationship.

The complainant said she didn’t elaborate on the evolution of their relationship because she wasn’t questioned as robustly during the preliminary inquiry.

The woman also agreed that during a meeting with her psychologist in March 2016, she told her something about the alleged incident she had not disclosed to anyone previously.

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“You told her that you had a strong memory that you were smiling during the course of the alleged incident?” said Hutchison.

“Yes,” the woman replied, saying it was a “new memory” and agreeing she had not informed the Crown or police about the smile prior to the preliminary inquiry. “I don’t have the memory today but I do remember having the memory.”

She said she doesn’t believe she was conscious or awake during the smile.

“The smile itself is an indication of pleasure?” asked Hutchison.

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The woman said: “Absolutely not, no.”

She said she didn’t know how to perceive the memory of the smile and so she wanted to discuss it with her psychologist.

“We had that conversation because I did feel a lot of guilt remembering that that had happened,” the woman said.

Cross-examination of the woman will resume Tuesday.