Former Toronto justice of the peace Tom Foulds was found not guilty Tuesday of assaulting his former partner after the Crown’s case came apart midway through the first day of his trial.
Crown attorney Katherine Beaudoin told the judge that after hearing some of the testimony of her main witness — Foulds’ former partner, whose name is covered by a publication ban — she no longer had a reasonable prospect of conviction.
The case was playing out in the College Park courthouse where Foulds once presided as a justice of the peace. On Tuesday he found himself on the other side of the bench as an accused person.
Ontario Court Justice Moiz Rahman was brought in from Brampton to hear the case.
“As difficult as this decision is, I invite Your Honour to make a finding of not guilty,” Beaudoin said to the judge.
Foulds’ lawyer, Nate Jackson, declined to comment to the Star.
The complainant had testified earlier in the day that she and Foulds, who had been together for about four years, got into an argument over money that then turned physical at home in March 2018.
The complainant said she had asked Foulds out to dinner to celebrate their four-year anniversary. He declined, instead saying he wanted more money, she testified.
She added she had regularly been providing Foulds, who would have been making close to $130,000 a year as a JP, with money.
“I have never understood where Tom’s money has gone,” she said. “I was curious as to where the money was going and how the money was being spent.”
She said Foulds called her mother, telling her that her daughter had been drinking. (The woman maintained Tuesday she was sober.) The complainant said she believes it was after the call that she “tapped” Foulds on the forehead with her BlackBerry, saying, “Don’t be daft.”
She testified that she got up, but Foulds grabbed her by the throat and pushed her down to the ground. She said she knew he was going to hit her.
How did she know, asked the Crown.
“I love animals, and you know when an animal is going to turn? He just turned,” she said, with a court support dog sitting next to her.
She said she was on the ground while Foulds had one hand on her throat and the other in a fist next to her head.
“It’s me, don’t hit me,” the woman testified she told Foulds. That ended the altercation, she said.
But in the afternoon at court, the Crown played the woman’s 911 call, in which she said Foulds had “beat” her. When asked about this, the complainant said “I must have believed it. Sometimes dreams and realities are the same for me.”
She went on to say: “Every morning I wake up and wonder if what I’ve dreamt is real or not. Especially with Tom.”
The comments prompted Beaudoin to reassess her case and ultimately find she no longer had one.
“The Crown remains of the view that something did happen in that apartment that day,” she said, but added the Crown can no longer prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
The complainant pleaded guilty last month to assaulting Foulds with a weapon, namely a cellphone. She received an absolute discharge, according to the Ministry of the Attorney General, which means she will not get a criminal record.
Foulds was fired as a JP last year after a discipline panel found he repeatedly inserted himself in a separate assault case in which his partner (now ex-partner) was the complainant. The panel heard he signed what is known as the “information” laying out the charge against the accused, and had asked Crown attorneys about the case. The Crown later withdrew the assault charge in that case.
Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter covering legal affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant