November 16, 2021

-Global News

Charges against a man accused in a high-profile sexual assault case have been withdrawn after he was killed in a homicide over the weekend.

In February 2020, Alexander Joseph Frederick Thomas, 35, was charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident that occurred in 2018.

Early Saturday, police found Thomas’s body at a residence on Braeside Court. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Carrie Low, who identified herself as the complainant in the sexual assault case, had been outspoken about the incident and how she said Halifax Regional Police mishandled the case.

The Nova Scotia Complaints Commissioner initially rejected her complaint because it was beyond the time limit to file a complaint, but that decision was later overturned by a judicial review.

A pre-trial application hearing for the sexual assault case was set for Tuesday morning in Dartmouth Provincial Court. However, given that Thomas had been killed, the Crown did not offer evidence and the charges against him were withdrawn.

Thomas’s defence had planned to call pretrial testimony from an RCMP investigator, who was expected to allege police conduct was so flawed that Thomas’s constitutional right to a fair trial had been breached.

“A truly unfortunate way that any case ends,” said Judge Ted Tax during the proceeding.

It’s “fortunately rarely that these circumstances do arise, but unfortunately, that is the situation that we’re faced with today,” he said.

“As a result, these matters are at an end in the provincial court.”

Outside court, Crown lawyers said the police investigation into the sexual assault remains active, adding that they had intended to call their own witnesses to refute defence assertions of police misconduct.

Homicide investigation in early stages

On Sunday, Emma Halpern, the executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Nova Scotia and a member of Low’s legal team, said in a statement that Low was still processing the news.

“Carrie is shaken by the news of Alexander Thomas’ passing. Her sympathies go out to his family and community,” Halpern said.

“She is also concerned about the impact this may have on her quest for justice in her case. Carrie and her legal team are still processing this shocking news and will be determining the way forward in the coming days.”

On Monday, Const. John MacLeod, a spokesperson for Halifax Regional Police, said the investigation is still in its early stages. He was unable to say if the homicide was related to the sexual assault case.

“Certainly, they’re looking at all avenues,” he said. “All information will have to be considered when they’re looking at how to resolve this.”

Mark Bailey, the lawyer representing Thomas in the sexual assault case, told Global News that Thomas had several young children, and that his family is grieving his death.

“They’re struggling right now. It came as a very big shock to them,” he said.

“The family is hopeful that this is dealt with expeditiously. They want to find out what happened and have this matter resolved.”