POLITICS

Patrick Brazeau's Lawyers Suggest Crown's Witness Provoked Confrontation

03/25/2015 11:33 EDT | Updated 05/25/2015 05:59 EDT
GATINEAU, Que. - Patrick Brazeau's defence team suggested Wednesday that his alleged victim instigated the physical confrontation that led to the suspended senator's arrest, accusing her of striking him with her hand and with a bra.

During cross-examination, the complainant in Brazeau's assault and sexual assault trial denied the charge that she hit him after he demanded she return a necklace he had given to her as a gift.

"That's false," the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said through an interpreter while on the stand.

Brazeau's trial in Gatineau, Que., entered its third day Wednesday. He faces charges arising from an alleged incident two years ago at a residence in the city, north of Ottawa.

The woman, who was on the stand for the third straight day as the Crown's key witness, has alleged Brazeau pushed her down some stairs, spat in her face, forcefully grabbed her breast and sexually assaulted her.

Brazeau, who was kicked out of the Conservative caucus after his arrest, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

His attorney, Gerard Larocque, also challenged the alleged victim's credibility Wednesday, saying she kept authorities in the dark about some details of the February 2013 incident.

Larocque alleged she had never mentioned in interviews and statements about how the animal-print bra and a purple shirt — both of which had been in her hands at the start of confrontation — ended up on a flight of stairs during the altercation.

He also grilled the woman in search of contradictions between her testimony and a videotaped statement to police the day of the incident.

In one example, he asked her why she said she could no longer remember telling police two years ago that Brazeau had time to make a phone call before their confrontation.

He suggested her intention was to omit that detail because it didn't follow her narrative that Brazeau allegedly rushed to confront her.

Larocque also tried to highlight contradictions in her testimony from earlier in the week.

In one example Wednesday, the woman denied telling the court that she fell on a flower pot in the house after Brazeau allegedly shoved her.

But Larocque and Quebec Justice Valmont Beaulieu both said notes they had jotted down from her earlier testimony clearly indicated she had told the courtroom she fell on the plant.

The lawyer has also targeted her credibility by telling the court how she once used a fake passport to travel to Canada. She testified, however, that she was up front with Canadian customs officials about the passport as soon as she arrived in the country to declare refugee status.

The woman acknowledged travelling to a third country from her native country to obtain a fake document, so she could then travel to Canada.

Larocque raised the issue again Wednesday, asking her if she knew it was illegal to use a phoney passport.

She replied that she was aware it was against the law, but said it didn't bother her because her life was in danger.

The court has seen several police photos showing bruises and red marks on different parts of the woman's body as well as images of broken spindles from railings inside the house.

Outside the courtroom, Crown prosecutor Sylvain Petitclerc was asked about Larocque's assertion that the woman hit Brazeau first.

"I think the scene says something, the photos of the victim say something and the suggestions submitted by the defence toward the victim are clearly denied by her," Petitclerc said.

The trial by judge alone is scheduled to resume with more cross-examination of the woman on April 2.

Brazeau has other legal troubles.

The 40-year-old still faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in connection with his Senate expense claims.

Last year, the Senate ordered Brazeau to repay almost $50,000 over disputed expense claims. He refused and the Senate garnisheed his salary until November 2013, when he was suspended without pay.

In another case, Brazeau faces charges related to allegedly being behind the wheel of a car while impaired in October, and for possessing a weapon in breach of his bail conditions.

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Scene After Brazeau's April 2014 Arrest