Friday, March 19, 2010
"Appeal court refuses to toss rape verdict"
A former aircraft mechanic from Ireland has lost his bid to have two rape charges thrown out of court.
Robert Geary, 46, claims he was wrongfully convicted last year in a pair of attacks on Winnipeg sex-trade workers in the summer of 1999.
He appeared before the Manitoba Court of Appeal last week seeking to overturn the decision and gain a new trial. Geary's lawyer argued the trial judge made improper findings of guilt based on eyewitness evidence that should have been rejected.
But the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that no mistakes were made and the verdict would stand.
"The judge's conclusion that it was (Geary) who assaulted the two complainants is clearly supportable," Justice Martin Freedman said in a written decision.
The high court also rejected Geary's bid to have his eight-year prison sentence reduced on the grounds it was "harsh and excessive."
"The judge accurately described the severity of the assaults. The victims were, he found, deliberately chosen because they were vulnerable," said Freedman.
- Claims wrongfully convicted of being a rapist.
- Was found guilty on a pair of attacks on Winnipeg sex-trade workers in the summer of 1999 and sentenced to 8 years in prison.
- Geary managed to dodge justice after fleeing to Europe in 2000 while out on bail. Police caught up to him in 2004 after learning he was in jail in Cambridge, England, where he was convicted of procuring sex from a minor.
- Geary, an airplane mechanic who was born in Belfast, was extradited back to Canada in late 2007 after his sentence expired. He went on trial in November 2008 on charges he attacked four young women. Queen's Bench Justice Murray Sinclair convicted him last year of two rapes but said the Crown had failed to prove the other two beyond a reasonable doubt.
- One victim told court how Geary picked her up and drove to a remote location in the northwest corner of the city. She said he forced her to perform various sex acts and threatened to run her over with his car when she managed to break free. The woman said she began hearing similar tales of other sex-trade attacks by the same "bad date" -- a man the workers knew only as Bob. She finally went to police, believing a serial predator was at work.
- He went on trial last November on charges he attacked four young women. Queen's Bench Justice Murray Sinclair convicted him of two rapes but said the Crown had failed to prove the other two beyond a reasonable doubt.
- "Mr. Geary's conduct was vile and despicable," he said. Geary was given double-time credit for 20 months of pre-trial custody, plus another 56 months on Monday.
- Four street-involved women testified against Geary at trial, one on behalf of a friend who died in April 2005. During the trial, defence lawyers contested allegations against Geary by claiming that the accusers' recall was impaired by hard-core drug use. They also said the women did not recall their attackers' accent.
- Geary's trial is being heard by a judge alone and began with one of four alleged victims taking the witness stand. The middle-aged woman tearfully recalled being picked up in the North End and then driven to a remote location in the northwest corner of the city by a man she believes was Geary. She said he forced her to perform various sex acts and threatened to run her over with his car when she finally managed to break free and escape.
- "I was trying to push him off, do anything I could to escape," she said. Her name is not being published to protect her identity. The woman said she began hearing similar tales of other sex-trade attacks by the same "bad date" -- a man the workers knew only as Bob who drove a green four-door car. She finally went to police, believing a serial predator was at work.
- The 44-year-old former full-time sex-trade worker testified that after she was paid $60 to have intercourse with the man, he sexually assaulted her after she refused to perform sex acts she wasn't comfortable with.
- "I felt dirty and I was scared -- I thought he was going to kill me," the 44-year-old woman testified, later pointing to identify Robert Geary, 45, in the prisoner's box as the man who attacked her.
- She claims that after being assaulted, she was driven to a drug house and dropped off.
- Geary, a Belfast aircraft mechanic, showed little emotion while listening to testimony on the second day of his trial. He began Monday by pleading not guilty to 12 criminal charges and is being tried by a judge alone.
- Geary was extradited back to Canada in March following his release from prison in Cambridge, England, after serving a four-year sentence for procuring sex from a minor. He was slated to stand trial in Winnipeg in November 2000, but fled the country with his family in August of that year.
- The 44-year-old witness testified that it wasn't until November 1999 that police approached her wanting to talk about a suspect who was allegedly assaulting sex-trade workers.
- She said she picked a man fitting Bob's description out of a photo lineup provided by police, and later gave a written statement to investigators, saying, "This is him..., but when I was with him, he was bald and had a moustache," court was told.
- She also said she wrote down the licence plate number on his car, which was passed on to a local sex-trade workers' assistance group that had received similar reports of other sex-trade attacks by the same "bad date."
- Court also heard testimony from a now 35-year-old former sex-trade worker who claimed to have been a regular client of a man named Bob, and a close friend of a now-deceased witness who alleged she had a "bad experience" with the same man.
- The woman said she questioned him about the alleged attack and was told "at least I didn't kill her," she said, later identifying Geary in court as the man who told her this. She herself was never harmed.
- Cross examination by defence lawyers Dan Manning and Ryan Amy explored the cocaine addictions of both alleged victims, and each woman admitted that the man they knew as Bob spoke in a voice that had no discernible accent.