Testimony wraps in St. John’s child sex abuse case
Lawyer for Chris Snow — known as the Christmas truck driver — calls no evidence in his defence
WARNING: This article contains graphic language
Testimony in the trial of a St. John’s man accused of sexually assaulting five children in the 1960s and ’70s wrapped up in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Wednesday morning, with the defence calling no evidence.
Chris Snow, 68, had indicated to the court through his lawyer Jason Edwards on Tuesday he wanted to testify, but did not take the stand when his case resumed Wednesday. Edwards called no other witnesses.
Five people — both women and men — testified on Tuesday that Snow sexually assaulted them over a period of years between 1965 and 1976. A sixth complainant had been scheduled to take the stand but declined at the last minute, resulting in two of Snow’s charges being withdrawn.
Snow — who is known in St. John’s for driving a truck decorated with boughs and coloured lights and playing music during the Christmas season — has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges related to sexually abusing children, beginning when he was 18 years old.
The complainants gave testimonies of Snow sneaking into their bedrooms at night and fondling them, sometimes leaving them money.
The men spoke of Snow forcing them to fondle him or forcing their mouths on his genitals. One man told the court Snow attempted to penetrate him anally on a number of occasions, beginning when he was nine years old. He gave details of three alleged incidents in particular, the most violent taking place when he was 13 and Snow was 24, he said.
All the witnesses said Snow assaulted them many times over the years.
“Once a week would be guaranteed,” one man said. “Sometimes it would be every second night.
“It was always the same repeated incident, some more aggressive than others.”
In addition to the complainants describing symptoms of physical and emotional trauma, one of them said she had been working with a psychiatrist in the late 1970s and had blocked out memories of her childhood for a period of time as a way of dealing with what Snow had done to her. Edwards questioned her on the accuracy of her memories as a result.
The woman acknowledged memory issues, but was adamant she was recalling the details of the abuse accurately, even if she was unable to provide a better timeline for them.
“I was a kid,” she said. “You don’t remember everything that happened when you were a kid. But I know it happened.”
Another woman said she had memory issues because of car accidents and surgeries, and had remembered many of the assaults through having flashbacks. Often times the flashbacks were brought on by seeing Snow’s truck or other encounters with him as an adult, she told the court.
“Just to be clear, everything we’re hearing today (from you) is based on flashbacks?,” Edwards asked the woman. “Absolutely, yes,” she replied. Justice William Goodridge asked Edwards and Crown prosecutor Tannis King to provide examples of case law involving flashbacks and recovered memories flashbacks when they provide their final submissions in the case Friday morning.
In an unrelated case, Snow’s son, David Snow, is facing charges of sex crimes against children in relation to incidents alleged to have occurred between 2011 and 2015.
The 35-year-old, who is currently in custody, has been charged with two counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference, three counts of exposing his genitals to a child under 16, and 10 counts of observing a person for a sexual purpose. He’s also charged with making and possessing child pornography. He has not been convicted and his case is making its way through the courts.
Chris Snow, 68, appeared in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court this week, on trial for charges related to the sexual abuse of five children over a period of years in the 1960s and 1970s. The case will be back in court Friday morning, when lawyers will give their closing submissions.