POLITICS

New Brunswick man who kept woman captive in apartment loses bid for appeal

09/05/2012 12:03 EDT | Updated 11/05/2012 05:12 EST
FREDERICTON - A New Brunswick man convicted of kidnapping and keeping a woman captive in his one-room basement apartment for almost a month has been denied his bid for an appeal.

Romeo Cormier was found guilty by a jury of sexually assaulting a 55-year-old woman and holding her against her will in Moncton in 2010. He was also convicted of assault with a weapon, robbery and uttering death threats and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Cormier represented himself before the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in Fredericton in April, arguing that his trial lawyers were incompetent and the trial judge erred in describing the crimes as "horrendous."

In the Appeal Court decision dated last Thursday, Justice Richard Bell dismissed Cormier's arguments.

"The transcript does not reveal any incompetence on the part of Mr. Cormier’s counsel," Bell wrote. "In my view, they performed admirably in very trying circumstances with a difficult client."

Bell said he found no problems with the way the trial judge handled sentencing.

"In response to Mr. Cormier's concern about the trial judge's characterization of the crimes as 'horrendous,' I would simply indicate that I agree with the trial judge and, in my view, he appropriately described the crimes committed by Mr. Cormier."

Bell also said Cormier's 46 pages of submissions and oral arguments were "somewhat rambling" and effectively invited the court to retry the case — something that isn't the role of Appeal Court judges.

During the trial, the woman — whose name is protected by a publication ban — testified that she was abducted at night as she left the mall where she worked, and was taken at knifepoint to his apartment.

The woman told the Court of Queen's Bench that Cormier threatened to kill her, and she feared him so much that she didn't dare grab one of the knives in his apartment or attempt to flee because she felt it would further jeopardize her life.

She was able to escape on March 24, 2010, when Cormier went out to a food bank.

Cormier told the trial that the woman wanted to be with him and that she had enlisted him to kill her husband, a claim she rejected when recalled by the Crown to rebut Cormier's testimony.

Cormier has maintained his innocence, noting that he didn't appear on any of the videos from surveillance cameras near the mall that were shown during his trial.