A Yellowknife houseboat bed and breakfast operator has been denied bail pending an appeal of his conviction in May for sexual assault.
Daniel Gillis, 51, was returned to custody at the North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC) following the decision yesterday by Supreme Court judge Shannon Smallwood.
His scheduled release date from NSCC remains Nov. 15.
In handing down her decision, Smallwood said that the public’s confidence in the administration of justice would be eroded by granting Gillis bail.
Smallwood’s ruling followed a hearing on Wednesday where Crown prosecutor Jay Potter opposed the appeal and his release on bail.
Gillis’s Edmonton-based lawyer Alan Regel meanwhile argued that there was merit to the appeal of the sex assault conviction, as well as the length of the sentence. He also argued that Gillis should be released on bail pending the appeal.
Gillis was found guilty after trial in territorial court in March of this year of one count of sexual assault, three counts of simple assault and one count of breaching his court conditions for coming too close to the victim. All of his offences took place between 2014 and 2016 and involved the same woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban.
Gillis was sentenced to five and a half months in jail by territorial court judge Robert Gorin on July 28. Gillis filed an appeal of the sexual assault conviction as well as the length of the overall sentence on Aug 25. Gillis also applied to be let out on bail pending his appeal.
In allowing the conviction appeal to proceed but at the same time denying him bail, Smallwood ruled that the appeal was weak and not compelling.
According to Potter, that was the main reason she would not grant him bail.
“Justice Smallwood balanced the fact that the appeal would not likely be heard before the accused finishes his sentence, so that would favour bail,” Potter said outside court following the decision. “But what cut against granting him bail was the fact the court was of the view that his grounds of appeal that were articulated at the hearing this week were weak.”
During Monday’s hearing, Potter argued Gillis’s appeal was frivolous, noting that Gillis contradicted himself on the witness stand as to whether he felt consent for sex had been given.
“If bail is given in this type of case it would diminish the public’s faith in the justice system,” Potter said. “Sexual assault is all too common an occurrence, particularly in this jurisdiction.”
Regel argued that Gorin erred by taking into account a 17 year old sexual assault conviction on Gillis’s record in sentencing. Regel said it should not have been a factor because Gillis had received a pardon for that offence.
Regel also argued that Gorin stated during trial that he had difficulty believing testimony from Gillis and the victim. Regal said consent to sex that night was a “he said- she said” scenario.
Outside court, following the decision, Regal said Smallwood’s decision to deny Gillis bail renders the appeal moot because he will have served his entire sentence before the appeal is heard. He called Smallwood’s decision disappointing.
Before the decision was handed down, Gillis’s victim stated via a Facebook message to Yellowknifer that she did not want to see Gillis released on bail.
“(Granting bail) ultimately and clearly leaves the victim very vulnerable. For the justice system not to take it the whole way makes a mockery of the whole system,” she stated.
Provided Gillis goes through with the appeal of the conviction, he will be back in Supreme Court in December – the exact date has yet to be determined.