Armstrong sex offender has charges dismissed - InfoNews

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Armstrong sex offender has charges dismissed

Joseph Caron turns his back to the camera and walks back into the Vernon courthouse.
July 03, 2019 - 3:30 PM

VERNON - An Armstrong man with a long history of sexual offences had two sexual assault charges dismissed by a Vernon judge who said there was not sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Joseph Vance Caron, born in 1969, had charges of sexual assault and attempting to choke or strangle to commit sexual assault dismissed by Justice Richard Hewson, July 2.

This is the second time this year Caron has avoided prosecution on sexual assault charges.

Caron left the quiet courtroom with who are assumed to be his parents after the brief appearance. He turned away when tried to photograph him and headed back into the courthouse, where photography is not allowed. 

Crown counsel Neil Flanagan told the court that two statements from the complainant were found to be inadmissible by Justice Richard Hewson June 17, and that meant there was insufficient evidence to convict Caron at trial.

Previously, on June 17 the court heard how the complainant was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 15-years-old and had been in a psychiatric hospital since October 2013 and was unable to testify. A second witness in the case was terminally ill with cancer and also unable to testify.

The court heard how Caron had met the 25-year-old complainant at an acquaintances apartment on Sept. 18, 2013. Justice Hewson told the court her medical history was "extremely sad" and she had been hospitalized half a dozen times that year prior to the incident.

The court heard how Caron had offered her a lift home and the two had left the apartment late that evening. The woman told police Caron then took her into an alleyway and allegedly started strangling her.

She told the police, "I think he was trying to rape me."

The court heard how she had managed to kick Caron in the groin and run away. Her mother had testified her daughter called her immediately after the incident "gasping for breath" and sounding "terrified." The mother then called 911.

The mother had told police her daughter's neck was pink after the incident, but a police officer had said he saw no bruising. A doctor's examination two days later concluded there was no bruising, no swelling and no abrasions.

The court heard that a psychiatrist had reviewed the two statements given to the police and found no evidence of active psychosis from the complainant while giving the statements. However, the complainant had asked police "are you here to rape my dead body" during the investigation.

Justice Hewson this statement was "troubling."

"The complainant may have misperceived the reality... as a result of her schizophrenia," the judge said.

While Justice Hewson agreed something had happened and that the complainant's "state of fear" suggested it was violent, the "degree of violence described in her description of the strangling is inconsistent with the absence of physical injury."

The judge dismissed the statements as not admissible.

The Crown has however made an application that may be seeking to once again have Caron designated a long term offender or seek a peace bond. If granted this could allow the courts to impose conditions on him or even hold him in custody without a new conviction. Caron is due in court on Aug. 12 regarding this matter.

Caron was sentenced in 2017 to six years in prison following a conviction of sexual assault, but won an appeal on the conviction in 2018 and was granted a retrial. At the retrial earlier this year, the main witness was unable to testify and the crown stayed the charges, although it has one year to reinstate the charges if they find new evidence.

Caron has a lengthy criminal record including 18 convictions including theft, common assault and sexual assault and had previously been designated a long-term offender, although this was reversed following his appeal.

In 2014 Caron was convicted of sexual assault, unlawful confinement and uttering threats in relation to a 2010 offence.

In 2016 a psychiatric assessment concluded Caron was at a moderately high risk of offending sexually in the future and a further psychiatric assessment in December 2017 put Caron in the "high range" of sexually reoffending in the future.

Correction - This story was corrected at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, 2019. An early version of this story incorrectly said the complainant and a witness were unable to stand trial. In should have said the complainant and the witness were unable to testify.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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