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Judge declares mistrial in sex crimes case of former Kentville tennis instructor

Aaron Byron Cumberland is led from Kentville Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.
Aaron Byron Cumberland is led from Kentville Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. - Ian Fairclough

A Kentville Supreme Court judge has declared a mistrial in a sex crimes case against a former tennis instructor.

A new trial has been scheduled for September for 28-year-old Aaron Byron Cumberland, who is charged with internet luring, invitation to sexual touching and making sexually explicit material available to a boy under the age of 16.

The trial started Monday and heard from two witnesses before it ground to a halt Tuesday afternoon following a procedural issue that was raised. The exact nature of the issue is covered by a publication ban.

After more submissions by lawyers Wednesday morning, Justice Gregory Warner called the jury back in.

“Yesterday at noon, new evidence came to the knowledge of one of the parties in this proceeding. The arrival of new evidence causes a prejudice to the other party to be able to continue the trial without the opportunity to deal with that new evidence,” Warner told the 13 jurors.

“The evidence is significant in respect to the manner in which the trial would proceed.”

Warner said the court had explored what options there were to try to save the trial and have a fair trial, but could not find any.

“As a result, I have no option ... but to call and declare a mistrial.”

He said it would be inappropriate to ask the members to commit themselves to adjourning the case until September.

Warner thanked the members for their attention during the trial.

“Your role is important, and it distresses the court that we’re unable to proceed and complete this with yourselves as the judges of fact.”

Cumberland was charged in November 2017 after a complaint to police about electronic messages the boy received.

Police applied for a warrant for his arrest at the time because they hadn’t been able to locate him and said they feared he might be trying to leave the country. He turned himself in to Halifax Regional Police the next day.

He was released on bail on conditions that included surrendering his passport and not using or having electronic devices that can access the internet. A preliminary inquiry was scheduled for last June, but three weeks before that date Cumberland and two other people were arrested on the American side on the Maine-New Brunswick border and charged with unlawful entry to the United States.

American officials said the trio crossed the border at a spot that is not designated as a point of entry, didn’t have proper identification and gave false names.

After pleading guilty in Maine, Cumberland was returned to Nova Scotia, where his bail was revoked. He remains in custody.

RELATED: Procedural issue delays internet luring trial of former Kentville tennis instructor

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