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RAYNSFORD TRIAL UPDATE: Defence raises issue of sex

Trial moves into defence phase

Demands for sex by Christopher Raynsford triggered a violent attack against him by Sebastien Roy, witnesses suggested Oct 24 at the first-degree murder trial. As the crown questioned their final two witnesses, the court heard that Roy had told friends he had attacked and tied up a man in Ottawa after the man tried to force oral sex on him.

During cross-examination, defence attorney Gary Barnes repeatedly asked the witnesses what Roy had told them about why he became violent.

Roy told the two that he had beaten and tied up a man in his home, according to their testimony. Jean-Marie Labrun, a former roommate of Roy’s, told the jury Roy admitted to using a frying pan to knock out the apartment’s tenant. Julie Moreier testified that Roy spoke of using a coffee pot to subdue an Ottawa man. Both a bloody, dented frying pan and the shards of a coffee decanter were found in Raynsford’s ransacked apartment.

But cross-examination focussed on Roy’s motivation: both Moreier and Labrun said Raynsford tried to force oral sex on Roy.

Raynsford was a slight 34-year-old man who had been diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. Roy was a muscular 23-year-old man; the two met on Nov 21 at Centretown Pub, according to a half-dozen crown witnesses.

The charismatic Barnes made his strongest impression so far in cross-examining forensic pathologist Dr Yasmine Ayroud. He hammered Ayroud about why the pathologist did not run toxicology tests on Christopher Raynsford’s body and suggested that given that Raynsford was bound, prone, and on a hard surface, he could have succumbed to ?positional asphyxia.? Positional asphyxia is more common when the deceased is intoxicated or drugged.

Through cross-examination, the defence team has persistently drawn attention to instances when Raynsford might have been exposed to drugs – in his early twenties in Vancouver and as a bartender at the now-defunct Polo’s bar in Ottawa.

Roy is charged with one count of first-degree murder. Raynsford’s badly decomposed body was found Dec 4, 2002 in his Lisgar St apartment. His arms and feet were bound and several cords and a bed sheet were tied around his neck in what Ayroud called the most complicated set of bindings she has seen in her 20-year career.

The first two defence witnesses were called Oct 25.

Both testified that they saw the victim in the days after Thu, Nov 21, 2002 – the day Roy was seen leaving Centretown Pub with Rainsford.

Bruno Doyle, an acquaintance of Raynsford, testified that he and his girlfriend often spent Friday nights at CP. They said that, as was their routine, they were at the neighbourhood gay bar on Fri Nov 22, where they saw and chatted with Raynsford.

Doyle was visibly anxious. Under cross-examination, he agreed that it could have been a week or two before.

Crown witness Robert ?Robbie? Beckstead, a bartender at CP, testified on Oct 19 that he had also seen Raynsford at the bar that Friday.

Matthew Pavelich, a gay man who lived in Raynsford’s building, testified that he saw Raynsford in the elevator on Nov 23 in the late evening.

Over the last two weeks, the crown has introduced evidence that appeared to anticipate that the date of death would be contested. Anne Raynsford, Chris’s mother, testified that their last conversation was Nov 21. She also provided phone records and bank statements that showed no activity after Nov 21. Unretrieved messages begin filling Raynsford’s machine on Nov 22. The last shift at work he worked was Nov 21, Le Café maitre d’ Jose Furtado told the jury. Ron Bird, a technology expert with the Ottawa Police, testified that there was no human activity on Raynsford’s computer after Nov 21. Newspapers found in the apartment were dated Nov 20 and 21.

Roy, who was groggy during the early days of the trial, now appears more alert. He has spent each of the last five days studiously following the proceedings via an English-to-French translator.

The trial continues. It is open to the public at the Ontario court, 161 Laurier at Elgin, courtroom 36.