By Shurtz, Delon on October 15, 2020.
A southern Alberta man who wants to withdraw his guilty plea to several sex offences still hasn’t retained a lawyer, despite repeated warnings from a judge.
Gary James Lippa has been ordered to contact Legal Aid before he officially applies to change his plea to not guilty on charges of sexual assault, child luring and making, printing and publishing child pornography. But even though he had been ordered to previously attend court with a lawyer, he still didn’t have one when he appeared in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench Wednesday.
“No, I don’t have a lawyer yet,” Lippa told Justice Dallas Miller.
Lippa, who was remanded at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre after being charged two weeks ago with breaching release conditions, said he has been unable to contact Legal Aid while in custody, and because of his poor hearing, he wouldn’t be able to hear anyone on the phone. He had a sign language interpreter helping him during Wednesday’s hearing.
Crown Prosecutor Lisa Weich told court she had talked to duty counsel in provincial court, who will help Lippa apply to Legal Aid for a lawyer.
Lippa, who fired his original lawyer several weeks ago, pleaded guilty in February, but later announced he wants to retract his guilty pleas and plead not guilty. On Sept. 14 he told Miller he had been “badgered” into pleading guilty.
During the February hearing, court was told the accused dated the mother of the 13-year-old girl he lured into having sex with him, and often referred to the girl as his niece. After the relationship between Lippa and the girl’s mother ended, Lippa and the girl lost touch with each other until after she turned 13 in November 2016 and he began communicating with her online, often texting her graphic sexual comments and requesting nude photos of her.
In August 2017, the two met several times while she was in Lethbridge staying with friends of the family. On one occasion they went to his residence and had sex.
In September the girl’s stepmother found out she was inappropriately communicating with Lippa online and contacted the RCMP. The girl provided a statement to police and was told to stop communicating with Lippa, but he continued talking to her and helped her hide the communications from her family.
After the girl turned 14 Lippa continued to communicate with her sexually, then on Feb. 22, 2018 police arrested him, searched his home, and seized several electronic devices. At first Lippa denied having sex with the girl, but later admitted he did once.
Miller adjourned the matter to Oct. 26, when Lippa, with the help of a lawyer, is expected to schedule a day for the judge to hear his application to strike the guilty plea. Lippa will also appear in provincial court the same day to address his breach charges.
Lippa is accused of accessing the internet in contravention of his release conditions on the sex charges, and the Crown has given notice of its intent to revoke Lippa’s bail.
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