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Corner Brook judge considers new evidence, but maintains conviction of skipper who tried to throw woman off fishing boat

Justice - SaltWire Network

A fishing boat captain convicted of trying to throw his spouse overboard may have had his trial reopened, but not even her recanting has changed the verdict.

Trent John White was found guilty in November of aggravated assault, assault and damage to property after a trial presided over by Judge Wayne Gorman at provincial court in Corner Brook.

During the trial, Gorman had heard how White tried to throw his girlfriend overboard during a commercial fishing expedition in the Strait of Belle Isle.

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Two other crewmates testified they heard a commotion and came to the woman’s rescue as she dangled over the side of the boat.

White had refuted that he was trying to throw her off the ship, but Gorman found White’s version of things to be unreliable.

The woman, although subpoenaed and present at the trial, was never called to testify by the defence.

Since the conviction, White applied to have the trial reopened so the victim could give evidence. Though unusual, given her evidence could have been heard at the trial, Gorman agreed to the application.

He heard the woman’s evidence during the application hearing and then weighed it in the context of what he had heard at trial.

Her evidence was that White had not assaulted her and never tried to throw her overboard. She said she concocted the scene in order to coerce him to give her drugs she was demanding from him.

Gorman, however, found the woman was also not a reliable or credible witness and was fabricated as an attempt to overturn the conviction.

He said the fact White eventually gave the woman the drugs she was demanding eliminated any reason for her to concoct a story that implicated him. Further, Gorman found the evidence presented by the two other crew members, who felt the woman was in real danger from White’s actions, to be more honest and reliable.

“I conclude that (her evidence) was purposely false and presented to assist Mr. White,” Gorman said in his written decision to uphold the conviction. “(the victim) may feel regret about having implicated her partner, but her recantation was not an honest one.”

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