September 06, 2013 - 11:18 AM
VERNON - A former Vernon teacher charged with the sexual assault of a student, then later with perjury, can breath a little easier after learning the Crown will not be appealing her case.
Deborah Ashton was found not guilty of perjury earlier this summer. The charges stemmed from two statements she made while under oath during her first trial in 2011, which ultimately ended in a hung jury. A judge later found her not guilty of sexually assaulting her student, but the Crown had already laid the perjury charges in connection with her first trial.
"Crown will not be pursuing an appeal," Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie says. "It was a case in which the verdict centred on the trial judge's assessment of the evidence and whether the Crown had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt."
In giving his decision, Supreme Court Justice Geoff Barrow said he had problems with Ashton's evidence, and couldn't accept some of her claims. But in the end, he couldn't be certain beyond a reasonable doubt, and Ashton was acquitted for the second time.
"Generally the Crown's right of appeal is limited," MacKenzie says. "We're only able to appeal if there's a basis that we can argue that the trial judge made an incorrect decision. Here the Crown had supported a conviction but the judge ultimately was not satisfied for a conviction."
Ashton says her legal battle has cost her more than $100,000. But her losses have not solely been financial. Teaching is her greatest passion, but she says she will never be able to set foot in a classroom again after what she, and her family, have been through.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013