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South Surrey child-porn case delayed again
Douglas Bowers says he is unable to find work because of the publicity around his guilty plea to possession of child pornography and has been forced to fire his lawyer.
“I just applied for legal aid,” Bowers told Judge Michael Hicks during a Monday morning hearing in Surrey Provincial Court.
“I can no longer afford to pay an attorney.”
He asked to have his sentencing hearing postponed while he gets a new lawyer, his third since he was first charged in September 2009.
The self-employed carpenter said he had a contract to do a house, but the people who hired him backed out after news of his guilty plea broke.
“When they saw the front page, they didn’t want me any more,” Bowers said.
He said he applied for social assistance on Sept. 25, prompting Hicks to ask why Bowers didn’t come to court then, rather than wait three weeks until the day his sentencing hearing was to resume.
“This is a matter that has gone on for a long time,” Hicks said.
“It’s extremely frustrating. You’ve had time, in my view, to take steps to obtain representation.”
Crown prosecutor Keith Kinash said witnesses had come to court expecting to testify that day, and he suggested the case should go ahead.
“I would wish this matter to proceed,” Kinash said.
But because the Crown is seeking a jail term for Bowers, the judge said he was, reluctantly, granting the adjournment.
“Despite my frustration, I have to give you the opportunity to be properly represented,” Hicks told Bowers.
The hearing will resume as previously scheduled on Jan 11.
But between now and then, Hicks said Bowers will be required to make regular brief appearances in court, beginning with Tuesday, Oct. 23.
On that day, Bowers is supposed to produce a promised letter from his doctor to confirm that he was in hospital in August when he was granted an adjournment because of health issues.
The letter is also supposed to update Bowers’ current medical condition and his claim to be suffering from what he described Monday as “extremely high blood pressure.”
Bowers was charged with possessing and accessing child pornography after an investigation that began in October 2008 led police to a man they described as a “prolific distributor of child sexual abuse images and video online.”
Following his initial guilty plea in December 2010, Bowers had told Peace Arch News he knew there was illegal material on his computer, but that it had been inadvertently downloaded while he was visiting adult-pornography websites.
The proceedings stalled last fall, when Bowers disputed an expert’s report, and again in March, when Bowers applied to withdraw his guilty plea.
He then withdrew that application five weeks later, and the sentencing hearing got underway.