EDMONTON – A man convicted of sexually assaulting an indigenous woman whom the Crown had jailed and shackled to ensure her testimony has applied for legal records to try to discredit her as he seeks a mistrial.
Lance David Blanchard was found guilty in December of aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, unlawful confinement, possession of a weapon and making a death threat in the 2014 attack.
The victim, a 28-year-old homeless woman, died in 2015 in an unrelated shooting.
Tom Engel, Blanchard’s lawyer, has applied for the release of legal records that he contends contain new evidence that she was heavily addicted to drugs and was involved in criminal activity.
“The theory of the defence was and is that the complainant created a false story, accusing the applicant (Blanchard) of the allegations which form the subject matter of the charges in order to exact revenge against the applicant and to cover up her own conduct,” reads the application.
“The sought-after records contain information that is likely relevant to issues in the trial, in particular, a mistrial application.”
A judge is to hear arguments on the records request next Monday and on the mistrial application on July 26. In January, Blanchard is scheduled for a dangerous offender hearing that could lead to him being jailed indefinitely.
Earlier this month, an Edmonton judge ruled against Blanchard’s attempt to have his convictions stayed over his treatment in custody.
The plight of his victim made headlines when it became public that a judge granted a request by the Crown to keep the woman in the Edmonton Remand Centre during a 2015 preliminary hearing for Blanchard to ensure that she would be available to testify.
The woman, who was originally from Maskwacis, Alta., and can’t be identified under a publication ban, was shackled during her testimony. On at least two occasions, she had to ride in the same prisoner van as her attacker.
Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley has called the woman’s treatment disturbing and has ordered two investigations into how she was treated.
The victim’s mother was upset at the latest legal development when she heard about it Monday.
“I am very mad. I am just speechless,” she said. “That is not right.”