A trial began Monday, Feb. 4 for a Summerside man who allegedly sent sexually explicit photos of himself to someone he believed was a 15-year-old girl but was actually an undercover RCMP agent.
The proceedings are being heard by the Supreme Court of P.E.I. in Summerside. It is a jury trial, which is relatively rare for the Summerside courthouse.
Stephen Robert Blood is charged with one count of making sexually explicit material available to someone under the age of 16, or whom he believes to be under 16 years, for the purpose of sexual touching.
The incidents allegedly took place between February and April 2018.
The trial is scheduled to take five days.
The Crown is John Diamond, and Blood’s defence lawyer is Robert McNeill.
Monday’s proceedings were dominated by the selection of the jury, which was whittled down to three men and nine women from an initial summoning of more than 130 Islanders. There is a publication ban on any information that could identify any of the jurors, as well as on any information presented while the jury is not present in the courtroom.
Due to the volume of people needed to conduct the jury selection, the initial process took place in a makeshift courtroom in a conference room of the Causeway Bay Hotel.
Once the jury was selected, Chief Justice Tracey Clements spent more than an hour instructing it on how members were to conduct themselves inside and outside the courtroom during the trial.
In his opening remarks, Diamond said it was his intention to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Blood shared sexually-themed images of himself with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl he met through the classifieds website, Craigslist, but was actually an undercover RCMP agent.
“All I can do is ask that you pay very, very careful attention to the evidence that comes out in court,” said Diamond, addressing the jury.
The first witness of the day was RCMP Const. Stephanie Labrecque, a member of the Major Crime Unit in Charlottetown.
Labrecque described how she was one of two officers who approached and arrested Blood on April 17, 2018, at his workplace near Reads Corner in Summerside.
She described the arrest, that Blood received his cautions from police and declined to speak with a lawyer. Blood was taken to the East Prince RCMP detachment for processing, then driven back to the general Reads Corner area.
She added that two phones were seized from Blood, one personal and one from work.
The trial will continue Tuesday morning.