May 25th, 2024

Man to face preliminary hearings for sex and child porn offences


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on May 4, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Numerous attempts to resolve several sex and child pornography charges have failed, and a 45-year-old Lethbridge man could be headed for trial after all.

Lethbridge lawyer Scott Hadford and his client James Martinac had hoped to avoid previously scheduled preliminary hearings, and any subsequent trials, and were working out plea deals with the Crown. However, on Friday in Lethbridge court of justice, Hadford said those efforts were unsuccessful.

“It was here for a potential disposition, and then all that fell through,” Hadford told the judge.

Martinac, had been expected for several weeks to plead guilty to some of his charges, and the case was adjourned several times to allow the Crown and defence time to iron out the details of agreed statements of fact. During the most recent court hearing only five days ago, Hadford told court counsel had worked out two agreed statements of fact and only had one more to go. He predicted that when the case returned Friday, at least one of the three preliminary hearings scheduled might be vacated.

On Friday, however, he said all three preliminary hearings will be held as scheduled. A preliminary hearing is typically held for the judge to determine if there is enough evidence to warrant a trial.

Lethbridge police reported in May 2022 they had charged a man with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in 2021. In April 2022 the then 16-year-old girl told police she had been sexually assaulted by a man who is known to her.

Investigation by members of the criminal investigation section determined the girl had been staying with the man at his home and was given drugs and sexually assaulted on multiple occasions over the course of several months in 2021. During their investigation police seized electronic devices that contained images of child pornography.

Martinac is set to have a preliminary hearing May 23-24 on charges of sexual assault, sexual contact with a child, sexual exploitation, luring a child under the age of 18, luring a child under the age of 16 , and possession of child pornography. He is also scheduled to have a preliminary hearing June 6-7 on charges of sexual assault, sexual contact with a child, luring a child under the age of 18, and possession of child pornography.

Martinac faces 13 charges out of Calgary, as well, including sexual contact with a child, sexual assault, possession of child pornography, distributing or selling child pornography, and making, printing or publishing child pornography. Of the Calgary charges he had previously pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of child pornography, which defence expected to resolve with the Lethbridge charges. The charges have been returned to Calgary for a May 15 hearing in docket court.

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