Halifax defence lawyer Lyle Howe found guilty of sexual assault

Desiree Finhert - Metro Halifax
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Lyle Howe quickly exits the courtroom May 31. Howe was found guilty for sexual assault but not guilty for administering a stupefying drug.

METRO HALIFAX

Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe could be heard screaming in a Nova Scotia Supreme Court stairwell following a jury’s decision that he is guilty of sexual assault, but not guilty of administering a stupefying drug.

The jury deliberated for 10 hours before reaching the verdict at Saturday afternoon.

Each member of the 12-person jury stood up in court to say, “I agree with the verdict.”

Howe’s family reacted emotionally to the announcement. His mother ran from the courtroom, and his wife doubled over crying.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with my f***ing career,” Howe could be heard screaming in the courtroom’s back stairwell.

The Halifax lawyer was charged after an incident with a then-19-year-old woman in March 2011. He told the jury the sex was consensual, while the complainant says she doesn’t remember what happened after a certain point in the evening.

At one point during deliberation, the jury asked for clarification on the legal definition of consent.

Defence lawyer Mike Taylor says he’s disappointed by the decision and there is a reasonable chance his client will appeal. Taylor also spoke to his client’s career as a lawyer.

“It’s basically destroyed,” Taylor told reporters outside the courtroom. “Mr. Howe is still at this moment a practicing lawyer. If his clients want him to continue, at this point, there is nothing to stop him doing that.”

However a prison sentence, or being suspended from the practice of law, would stop his career.

Both the defence and the Crown said they have not thought about sentencing yet.

“It would be a substantial custodial period that we would be seeking,” said Crown lawyer Darcy MacPherson. “It might not be a jail (term.) It might be a prison (term.)”

MacPherson said he had not yet spoken to the complainant to convey the verdict.

Howe is not considered a flight risk and has been released into the community.

He is due back in court on July 30 for sentencing.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Supreme Court

Geographic location: Halifax

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