UPDATED — RCMP videos not admissible in paramedic sexual assault case: judge

Carole Morris-Underhill editor@hantsjournal.ca
Published on December 23, 2014

James Duncan Keats, pictured leaving the Hants County Courthouse Dec. 23, was informed the videotaped statements he made to police following his arrest will not be permitted at his trial.

©Carole Morris-Underhill — TC Media

WINDSOR — Hours of recordings of Kentville paramedic James Keats talking to police about allegations of sexual assault won't be counted as evidence by the trial judge.

Judge Claudine MacDonald ruled today in Windsor provincial court that approximately eight hours of video viewed as part of a voir dire hearing are not admissible as evidence.

MacDonald said both of Keats' recorded statements viewed by the court were involuntary.

Further, she had concerns relating to the length of time the accused was detained after his arrest. Police held Keats for 15 hours before questioning him, the court heard, and it was 22 hours before he was brought before a justice of the peace.

MacDonald said the interview should have been conducted the night he was arrested, not after the RCMP officers had a chance to rest.

She also said Keats should have been brought before a justice without unreasonable delay, referring to Section 503 of the Criminal Code.

The 49-year-old paramedic stands accused of two counts of sexual assault and two counts of breach of trust based on allegations put forth by a 72-year-old Mount Uniacke woman. Keats has been suspended from working as a paramedic. 

The woman alleges Keats sexually assaulted her twice — once in her home, and once in the back of an ambulance. She took the stand over two days in the fall, Sept. 29 and Oct. 3. She held steadfast in her testimony, even under cross-examination, that Keats assaulted her.

Read more about the case.

A voir dire hearing began on Oct. 3 to allow MacDonald the chance to determine whether comments made by Keats to East Hants RCMP officers after his arrest would be allowed during trial.

Two videotaped statements from May 31, 2013, were presented during the hearing. He was arrested the evening of May 30 at a baseball game in Kentville, was brought to Windsor and then transferred to Enfield for questioning.

In the first video, which lasted about six hours, Keats denied any wrongdoing. MacDonald noted in the verbal summary of her ruling that Keats said he wanted to speak to a lawyer more than 20 times during the interview. The RCMP reminded Keats that he had already spoken to a lawyer and noted that he was under no obligation to speak to them.

The first interview concluded at 4:08 p.m. May 31.

MacDonald said the conversation was largely one-sided and there was an "atmosphere of oppression."

Keats was then brought before a justice of the peace. Shortly after learning he was being remanded into custody for the weekend, Keats asked to speak with Const. William Collier.

During the second recorded interview, Keats said he understood he was talking to the police on his own free will, initiated the conversation and shared his side of the events that took place at the woman’s home.

Despite saying he understood his rights, MacDonald said the second interview was linked to the first interview as Keats made references to not wanting to be known as a sexual predator.

Keats will return to court in March to resume his trial.

The charges against Keats have not been proven in a court of law.

He is also facing separate sexual assault charges relating to other female patients between 2010 and 2013.

 

~ With files from Jennifer Hoegg