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Man guilty of sexually assaulting sleeping woman who died by suicide before trial

Judi Coyle, right, poses with her older daughter Melanie Smith outside court in Barrie, Ont., on Feb. 14, 2018.

Colin Perkel/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A man was found guilty on Wednesday of sexually assaulting a sleeping woman who killed herself before the case went to trial, but whose statements were admitted as evidence and found to be truthful.

In convicting Shawn Roy, Superior Court Justice Robert Gattrell said he had no doubt the accused intended to assault Kassidi Coyle, 20, of Barrie, Ont., in the early hours of Canada Day in 2016.

Coyle's mother, Judi Coyle, said the verdict had been a long time coming.

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"I'm just grateful to God for this. Now she can rest in peace," she said outside court. "We got the justice that we wanted, and that's all I wanted was justice."

The incident occurred as a sober Kassidi Coyle slept soundly in the upstairs bedroom of a friend's house while others partied downstairs. Roy, who was visiting from Quebec, had been drinking heavily, court heard.

In statements Coyle made immediately after the incident, she testified to waking up and finding Roy trying to penetrate her from behind. Her pyjama bottoms and underwear had been removed and were on the floor – something she said she hadn't done.

"I could feel someone," she told a detective later that day. "I felt him trying to penetrate me from behind."

Her friends said Coyle emerged from the bedroom "pale and panicky," court heard.

Tests later found Roy's DNA on her genitals.

Roy, 38 at the time of the assault, had argued he didn't remember what happened after he mistakenly climbed into the wrong bed. He said he panicked when he realized someone else was in the bed and left the room.

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Gattrell noted several inconsistencies and "outright contradictions" in Roy's statements and evidence.

For example, the accused had denied removing the woman's clothing, and initially denied any sexual contact with her. However, he did later admit he might have had an erection while asleep that protruded through his shorts and touched her vagina – a story the judge rejected.

"In his statement to police, of course, he denied the very possibility," Gattrell said. "This is another feature of this case the undermines his credibility."

Additionally, the judge noted, a naked Roy had earlier invited one of the other young women present into a hot tub, a sign that he was "disinhibited" at the time.

Coyle's account made sense and the young woman had no motive to lie given that she hadn't met Roy before that day, the judge said.

At the outset of the trial, Roy's lawyer, David Wilcox, had tried to argue for the exclusion of Coyle's statements to a 911 operator and police because she could not be cross-examined on her account.

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However, Gattrell found the recorded statements allowed him to assess her demeanour. Results of a rape kit corroborated her perception of physical contact and the "nature of that contact," he wrote in that ruling.

Coyle's mother said she was proud her daughter had succeeded in a rare case in which the victim of a sexual assault had died and was therefore unable to testify at trial. The attack, she said, had shattered her daughter, who beforehand had been supremely confident.

"She was a light. She was the brightest spot in a lot of people's lives," Judi Coyle said. "Her confidence was shattered. It was like night and day. I couldn't get her to be happy."

Kassidi Coyle tried twice to kill herself before succeeding on the third occasion. She died Oct. 27, 2016, in her mother's arms.

"She said she couldn't get his face out of her head," Judi Coyle said.

Roy, who moved to Quebec from Barrie after his marriage 14 years ago, has no prior record. He is currently out on bail and faces a sentencing hearing April 24.

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