By Shurtz, Delon on February 13, 2020.
A 39-year-old Lethbridge man accused of luring and assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 2017 will remain in custody while he stands trial in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench next week.
Gary James Lippa had been out on bail until recently, when he was arrested and charged with theft under $5,000 and two counts of failing to comply with conditions of his release.
During a bail hearing Wednesday in provincial court, Lethbridge lawyer Wade Hlady said it would be easier to meet with his client and prepare for the trial if he was not in custody, but Judge Timothy Hironaka said it would be in the public’s interest to keep him in.
Lippa, who appeared by closed-circuit TV from the Lethbridge Correctional centre, returns to court on his new charges next month. His judge-and-jury trial on charges of child luring, sexual assault, sexual interference, making child pornography, accessing child pornography and possessing child pornography, is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit reported that a man was arrested at his Lethbridge home on Feb. 22, 2018, after police received information that he was engaged in sexualized online chats with an underage girl. Police alleged nude photos were exchanged, and a number of computers and electronic devices were seized from the home.
ALERT said the man deceptively enticed a girl away from her caregivers, and when the two met in person, the girl was sexually assaulted.
The accused was set to represent himself during trial after he had been denied legal aid and the court rejected a Rowbotham application, which would have granted him court-ordered counsel. It wasn’t until last December that Hlady agreed to take the case, barely two months before trial.
The trial will begin with jury selection and is scheduled to run until the end of the month. The Crown is expected to call about 10 witnesses before defence begins its case.
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