A former Lower Mainland politician, David Murray, was in court on Friday morning to appeal his sex assault conviction.
Murray, a previous Pitt Meadows city councillor, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in 1992, in a decision by Justice Deirdre Pothecary in Port Coquitlam provincial court in 2017. He received a nine-month sentence.
He is appealing both the conviction and his sentence, and on Friday the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver dealt with the matter of his conviction, with Murray not in attendance.
His lawyer, David Ferguson, argued that Pothecary improperly devalued defence evidence, and Ferguson asked for a new trial. The lawyer said the judge shifted the burden of proof in the case, and held Murray’s evidence to a higher standard than Crown evidence. He also said Crown provided no accurate timeline.
Prosecutor Mary Brown said Pothecary gave equal weight to Murray and the victim’s evidence in her reasons for judgement, with 25 paragraphs on each in the written ruling. She told the court the record does not show an imbalanced scrutiny of evidence.
The appeal was heard by Justices Nicole Garson, Gregory Fitch and Patrice Abrioux. They asked for more written submissions from Murray’s lawyer and Crown, to be received in November.
Murray is on bail until a decision is rendered.
Murray, secretary-treasurer of the CUPE Fraser Valley District Labour Council, was originally charged in November 2016 with sexual assault and sexual interference of a person under the age of 14. But Crown counsel asked for the second charge to be stayed, citing an inability to confirm whether the complainant was 13 or 14 at the time of the alleged attack.
Murray remained on Pitt Meadows council and attended regular meetings throughout the investigation and trial. Following the conviction in October 2017, he resigned effective the following January.
The council has been lobbying the provincial government to introduce legislation that would compel a municipal politician convicted of a serious crime to resign.
Last September, the Union of B.C. Municipalities backed a resolution on the topic from Pitt Meadows council. Minister of Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson has said she will work on creating new legislation with the organization.