Search begins as no-show forces YK sexual assault mistrial
A mistrial was declared on Wednesday morning and a warrant issued for a man who failed to show up for a jury trial in Yellowknife.
Alden Joseph Lennie was last seen leaving the courthouse on Monday afternoon after a jury had been chosen for what was to be a five-day trial in Supreme Court on one count of sexual assault.
But Lennie failed to show up on Tuesday and Justice Andrew Mahar ordered an arrest warrant be issued.
On Wednesday, after RCMP had conducted “extensive searches” of all of Lennie’s known locations in the city, the jury was called in and a mistrial declared.
“My client is not here, I don’t have any instructions from him,” defence lawyer Jay Bran told court before the jury returned.
Crown prosecutor Blair MacPherson said “extensive police resources” had been put into searching for Lennie since his Tuesday no-show.
The alleged victim had also arrived that morning and was waiting to testify from behind a screen, a normal request for this type of trial.
“We can’t continue with this trial,” MacPherson said on Wednesday, noting the jury members had been waiting to hear evidence since Monday, and it would be unfair to delay proceedings any further.
“These people have jobs and lives and they need to get back to them.”
A publication ban had been ordered Tuesday on the fact Lennie hadn’t shown up for his trial, since it could influence the jurors. That order was to end once the jury was sequestered.
Lennie has now lost his right to a future jury trial, said the judge, unless he can prove he had a good reason not to have shown up for this one.
He will also remain in custody once he is found.
Lennie is accused of having intercourse with a woman in July 2015 without her consent.
It was alleged in court on Monday that the woman was raped while sleeping at a mutual friend’s apartment in the city.
DNA belonging to Lennie was found in samples retrieved from the woman in hospital and tested at a federal laboratory, the court heard.
Lennie has not had a chance to challenge that evidence and remains innocent until proven guilty.
Police have yet to issue further information about the manhunt.