It was a full house in an Oshawa courtroom as attorneys made their closing submissions in a violent Whitby assault trial. Anthony Doiron-Francis is facing charges of attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault after he was accused of attacking a Whitby woman while she was out for a walk in the summer of 2020.
Dozens of people came to show their support for the victim on one of the final days of the trial. With people holding signs like ‘Be positive’ and ‘We stand with you,’ the victim held back tears as she realized how many strangers came to support her during the case.
In the closing arguments, defence counsel Marco Sciarra maintained the accused did assault the 50-year-old woman, but says it was because he was caught caught taking video of the victim from behind. Sciarra says his client then got into a fight with the victim, and that’s where he lost his phone in the tussle. But the defence rejects the claim by the Crown attorney that Doiron-Francis sexually assaulted her and tried to kill her.
“There’s no independent evidence that a rape ever occurred,” Sciarra said.
Earlier in the trial the accused said the victim’s pants were taken off during a struggle, exposing her privates.
The defence team says this shouldn’t be considered sexual assault.
“If somebody’s privates are exposed during an assault, I would submit it doesn’t account to a sexual assault,” Sciarra said.
Doiron-Francis says things got out of hand on that day in July 2020. On July 28, surveillance video showed him following the victim for over two hours. On the stand, the suspect said he was attempting to film her with his phone to feed his “perverse porn addiction.” When he was caught, Doiron-Francis admitted he hit her several times, attempting to keep her quiet.
The Crown claims her injuries were due to the suspect attempting and failing to rape her — something Sciarra claims isn’t proven.
“Their theory is that he got to the point that he intended to kill her, because he couldn’t complete the rape,” he said.
“It’s not supported by any of the evidence.”
The accused claimed in his own testimony that the victim caught him and that’s when he began hitting her. He said it was because he didn’t want to be caught with the things on his phone.
The struggle caused them to tumble to the creek below as the accused says he lost his footing and grabbed the woman by the back of her pants — taking her with him. Doiron-Francis says they got in a fight, and his full body weight came down on her at the bottom of a slight incline. After the incident, the victim was found with no pants on.
Although there wasn’t any conclusive evidence of a rape, the Crown argues there was intention. Sciarra claims it just wasn’t possible.
“The unknown location, terrain, losing the shoes — there’s no plan to execute that type of sexual assault. This court cannot find beyond reasonable doubt that it’s proven he intended to rape her,” Sciarra said.
The victim was left with life-altering injuries, half hanging in a creek bed, naked from the waist down. She wasn’t located until the next day after police found her during a search. She had several injuries and was declared medically dead en route to the trauma centre.
Earlier in the trial, the judge heard from Dr. Aaron Nauth at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He was working in the ER at the time of her admission. He says there were extensive injuries all over her body, including multiple facial fractures, multiple breaks to the jaw, a basal skull fracture, bleeding around the brain, and other numerous scrapes, bruises and lacerations across her body. Nauth said her injuries were so severe they could only come from either a bad car accident or someone who was hit in the face multiple times with an object.
Crown Attorney Tammy Holland says the evidence presented by the defence does not describe what actually happened.
“The accused assertions and testimony he did not attempt to kill or sexually assault her are not supported by medical evidence, the admission to his friend or the physical evidence,” Holland said.
With respect to the claim that Doiron-Francis has a porn addiction, Holland said there was no evidence of a video of the victim found on his phone or computer. And in a conversation with his friend, Doiron-Francis admitted to being mad, she said.
“He told his friend Tyler he was mad, walked up behind her and hit her,” she said.
“The accused said nothing to his friend about her confronting him first.”
The Crown challenged the idea that he wanted to take a video as the accused was seen following her, even quickening his pace after stalking her for blocks until darkness fell.
“It makes no sense he would follow her until it gets dark out to do it,” Holland said.
“All of this evidence that I’ve referred to was an attempt to explain why he hit this woman, got her into the wooded area and explain why her pants were down.”
During the trial, the court heard that he also conducted several Google searches shortly after the incident. The suspect searched for items such as “Whitby News,” “term person of interest,” “when your face is wanted is that bad?,” “how to know if your phone is being tracked” and other searches relating to attempted murder. Holland said in her final remarks that although the suspect says he lifted her head out of the water to make sure she would survive, he carried out several actions to prevent her from getting help.
“The extreme nature of her injuries that were life-threatening. The location where she was found, without a purse, keys and cellphone. He intended to kill her and believed that he had.”
The judge will now take a look at both stories to come to a verdict. A decision isn’t expected until the new year.
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