The Crown entered a stay of proceedings in the charges against Joseph Vance Caron in Vernon Law Courts Monday, March 11. (Google photo)

Stay of proceedings in Okanagan sexual assault trial

The Crown has entered a stay of proceedings in the charges against Joseph Vance Caron

Nearly five years after the offence was alleged to have occurred, Joseph Vance Caron walked out of the Vernon Law Courts Monday a free man.

Caron, born in 1969, appeared before Justice Alison Beames in Supreme Court after he successfully appealed his May 2015 conviction and was granted a new trial. However, during that trial’s second week, the complainant failed to respond under cross-examination by defence lawyer Alexander Watt, and Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg directed the court to enter a stay of proceedings.

Related: Armstrong sexual assault trial delayed

Related: Trial underway for Armstrong man facing sexual assault charges

“With the stay having been entered, there’s nothing further to be done in this case,” Beames said. “The case is over.”

Monday’s continuation of the trial saw the complainant take the stand for the third attempt at cross-examination in the new trial.

“How are you this morning?” Watt asked.

“I’m OK, I think,” the complainant replied.

After roughly eight minutes, the complainant failed to respond to Watt’s line of questioning for the third time. In the previous instances, the court stood down to allow time for the complainant to recover.

Beames asked if the the complainant was all right, also to no response. The complainant was then excused and left the courtroom.

“I thank the court for their patience over the last week,” Wiberg said after the complainant left. “At this point the Crown would direct the courtroom clerk to enter a stay of proceedings,” .

“Thank you, Crown. (The complainant) needed the time,” Beames said. “There’s no faking anything that’s happening there. My heart goes out (to the complainant). It’s obviously been a difficult process.”

Prior to Monday’s stay, Caron faced charges of sexual assault, choking and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm in connection with an incident in Armstrong in May 2014. Caron was sentenced to six years and three months in jail in 2015 before successfully appealing his conviction.

After court closed Monday, Wiberg said that the Crown has up to one year—until March 11, 2020—to reinstate charges. However, that would generally only be done should new evidence come to light, he added.

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