Judge to rule next month on application to stay proceedings in sex case
HALIFAX (CP) — A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice will rule next month on an application to stay proceedings against a former Strait area businessman facing numerous sex-related charges after his lawyer argued the matter has taken too long to come before the courts.
The case against Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, 66, has been plagued by “abhorrent” delays since the first allegations arose in 1995, his lawyer David Bright argued Wednesday.
MacIntosh, a former telecommunications consultant, faces 36 charges dating back to the 1970s in a number of Strait area communities.
Bright told the court that MacIntosh left Canada for a job in Singapore in 1994, four months before the RCMP began investigating him.
He said the lead investigator, Cpl. Donald Deveau, failed to find a phone number for MacIntosh until a year later, even though he had his address at a hotel in India a month after the allegations were made.
Deveau testified he left a message for MacIntosh the first time he called — a message MacIntosh said he never received — and was unable to reach him in India until August 1996, despite repeated calls.
The officer said he identified himself in the ’ 96 call as an RCMP officer from Port Hawkesbury and that a warrant had been issued for MacIntosh’s arrest following an investigation into an alleged sexual assault.
Deveau said MacIntosh told him he had no intention of returning to Canada, then the line went dead.
MacIntosh testified he was not told of the warrant and was left baffled by the reference to an investigation, later concluding the officer would call back if it was important.
In September 1997, MacIntosh was told that his passport would be revoked because he was facing charges in Canada, a decision later overturned in court.
MacIntosh returned to Canada on a few occasions. But Deveau confirmed he never looked into whether MacIntosh had left India, saying only that federal officials had told him the passport had been “red-flagged.”
Asked if he tried to contact the RCMP liaison officer at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, Deveau said he never thought of that either.
MacIntosh testified he lived about three blocks from the commission and was a member of its Canada Club.
More charges were laid in 2001 after other complainants came forward.
In all, MacIntosh spent 13 years in India before he was arrested in April 2007. He was extradited to Canada two months later and remained in custody until April 2008, when he was released on bail.
Bright complained about delays in getting documents disclosed from the Crown, the loss of Halifax police records and the deaths of several potential witnesses over the years.
Crown prosecutor Diane McGrath pointed out there is no statute of limitations on criminal charges in Canada and cited case law that suggests the courts have no role in telling the police how to conduct their investigations.
She said it was hard to understand why MacIntosh would choose not to seek clarification from the police once he had learned he was the subject of an investigation. She argued that MacIntosh had fought the extradition process, which is typically a drawn-out, complicated process at the best of times.
McGrath also noted that the RCMP did little in the five years before MacIntosh was arrested because their investigations were largely complete and federal lawyers were busy trying to get MacIntosh to return to Canada.
The charges against MacIntosh include indecent assault and gross indecency.
The six male complainants have been separated into two groups and MacIntosh is facing two separate trials, the first of which is expected to take place in April.
The identities of the complainants are banned from publication.