2019-07-17

Complainant testifies in Nova Scotia Supreme Court trial of Bridgewater’s former police chief



The Nova Scotia Supreme Court sex crimes trial of former Bridgewater police chief John Collyer is hearing from the complainant in the case who alleges the town's then-top cop touched her inappropriately and sexually assaulted her while they were in a vehicle together three years ago.

The young woman, who was 17 at the time of the 2016 allegations, took the stand July 11 and testified as the prosecution continues calling evidence on the fourth day of multi-day trial.

The woman's mother gave additional evidence during the proceedings earlier in the day. The court heard the the complainant and Collyer families had a positive relationship over a period of years.

John William Collyer, 55, of Crouses Settlement in Lunenburg County, is accused of touching the young girl with his hand for a sexual purpose and sexually assaulting her between May and July of 2016. His trial is being heard by Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge alone. He's pleaded not guilty to the allegations. It's believed he will testify at some point during the trial in his own defence.

July 10 largely featured testimony from Gord Vail of province's independent police oversight agency - the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) - who lead the investigation into Collyer.

The testimony centred around hundreds of social media messages exchanged between Collyer and the teenage complainant three to four years ago.

However, not all of those communications were retainable, leaving inconsistencies between the suggestive content captured in screen-grabs by the girl's mother and what Facebook produced for the investigation.

The girl's mother and a close family friend testified that sexually-charged communications with Collyer were found on the teen's social media account in 2016. The teen's mother showed the content to her family physician, resulting in RCMP being alerted to the matter followed by the involvement of SIRT.

Collyer, a long-time member of Bridgewater's municipal police department, was serving as Chief of Police at the time.

Judicial authorizations were executed in relation to the case, resulting in the seizures of computer equipment. The girl also gave a statement to SIRT.

Collyer was placed on administrative leave in August 2016 after it went public that SIRT was investigating his actions in relation to a female teen. He was suspended in May 2017 when word came that SIRT laid charges.

Collyer had been a member of the Bridgewater's police force between 1990 and 2018. He rose to the rank of deputy chief in 2009 before becoming chief, a role he assumed between 2011 and 2018.

Six days had been set aside for the trial but submissions by Crown prosecutor Roland Levesque and defence attorney David Bright made it clear additional time is needed to satisfy parameters of a Supreme Court of Canada decision that places deadlines on how much time is allowable to try a person accused of summary or indictable offences.

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