Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

A former Nanaimo man who was sentenced two years ago for a 1999 rape at an Abbotsford musical festival has lost his bid to have his conviction quashed.

James Allen Redden, 53, was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison in April 2019 after being convicted of sexual assault, unlawful confinement and uttering threats.

The assault occurred Aug. 7, 1999 during the 11th annual Sumas Mountain Happening outdoor rock festival on an 11.5-acre property in the 37200 block of Ward Road in Abbotsford.

Sometime around midnight, the victim, then 21, was walking back to her vehicle when she was grabbed, dragged into the woods and sexually assaulted.

She was choked to the point where she nearly lost consciousness, and she was threatened with death.

Evidence was gathered following the attack, but the case remained unsolved until December 2013.

At that time, the officer who first investigated the case reopened the file and sent clothing obtained from the scene for DNA analysis.

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In early 2014, a DNA profile was discovered and a suspect was identified. Before then, there was no match because Redden was not in the DNA database.

It then took some additional time for police to gather further evidence to back up their case, leading to charges being laid against Redden in December 2015.

Redden appealed his conviction, claiming that the judge made several errors during the six-day trial, including rejecting the possibility that one of Redden’s co-workers committed the sexual assault and incorrectly interpreting certain evidence, such as in relation to the DNA results.

Redden said the judge “did not appreciate that police management of the exhibits contravened then-existing DNA protocols,” “misjudged the risk of contamination” and “gave greater weight to ‘wearer’ evidence than warranted.”

Redden said this misunderstanding of the evidence “had a significant impact on the outcome of the trial.”

“(This) caused the judge to undervalue the defence theory that other people may have brushed up against the appellant and left their clothing at the scene with DNA transferred from the appellant,” Redden argued in his appeal application.

But the three-judge Court of Appeal panel stated in its written ruling released Monday (June 14) that there had been no miscarriage of justice.

“… a reasonably minded person, present throughout the whole of this trial, would not consider that the proceedings were unfair,” the ruling stated.

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Redden previously went on trial in 2008 and was acquitted of a 1995 sexual assault in Nanaimo.

The complainant in that case testified that she had been walking along the road when she was attacked from behind, taken into a ditch, raped and threatened with death. She was not able to identify her attacker.

Redden was arrested and charged with the attack 12 years later, in 2007, but was acquitted at trial when the judge said the evidence heard at trial didn’t establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Redden was guilty.

The complainant had been a resident of a local hotel, where Redden testified he often went for casual sex with women.

Semen found on a jacket belonging to the complainant was determined to be Redden’s, but his lawyer argued that the semen was transferred there when the woman picked up clothing at the motel belonging to another resident.



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