Closing arguments set for Friday in London, Ont., child abduction trial

CONTENT WARNING: This story contains disturbing and graphic content. 

The Superior Court of Justice heard from a final witness on Thursday as the trial surrounding an alleged child abduction and sexual assault from three years ago reached its fourth day.

The trial concerns an alleged incident that London, Ont., police said took place on May 13, 2018 near Melsandra Avenue and Barker Street.

Police say a man picked up a four-year-old girl in the area and brought her into his Chevrolet Impala, with witnesses reporting they observed the man allegedly inappropriately touching the young girl.

The car then stopped in the same area where the girl was taken from before she exited the vehicle and ran back home, according to police.

The following day, Lawrence Allen Thompson was arrested and charged with offences related to kidnapping, sexual assault on a person under the age of 16, sexual interference with a person under the age of 16 and abduction of a person under the age of 14.

The 68-year-old, who was 65 at the time of the alleged incident, has pleaded not guilty to all four charges.

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Assistant Crown attorney Kristina Mildred presented a retired officer who previously served with the London Police Service as her final witness in the trial.

Lori-Ann Kirk was a detective constable who had partnered with Sgt. Eric Potasse during the child abduction investigation that was launched following the alleged incident in 2018. Potasse testified in court on Wednesday on day three of the trial.

Kirk told the court she became aware of case on May 13, 2018, the same day the alleged incident took place.

She said she assisted in interviews with the four-year-old girl and her family members in the afternoon.

At one point, Kirk assessed the girl to see if she had any visible injuries. Her mother pointed out redness on the girl’s upper arm, but Kirk assumed it was dry skin. The officer said she wanted to assess the rest of the girl’s body to see if anything else could be found.

Kirk said both her and the girl’s mother observed “red marks that appeared to be finger pressure points on her… right upper calf.”

“They were fresh and they were red,” Kirk told the court.

The retired officer later pointed out the marks in a photo of the young girl’s leg that was shown to court by the assistant Crown attorney.

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Kirk also recalled her visit to the accused’s home on May 14, 2018 in search of a suspect vehicle tied to the alleged abduction. A Chevrolet Impala registered to Thompson’s wife had matched the description of the vehicle and the purpose of the visit was to confirm whether the two cars were the same.

Kirk visited the home with Potasse, who was her partner for the investigation that day.

She reiterated much of what Potasse previously told the court about the visit and noted that the Impala was “propped up” with its front tires removed when the officers found the vehicle.

Similar to what Potasse told court, Kirk noted that she was quick to recognize the Impala was the same vehicle being sought by police, based on a number of matching physical features.

“I was satisfied that this was the vehicle involved and I just made eye contact with Det. Potasse and at that point, he placed Mr. Thompson under arrest,” Kirk said.

Kirk began to handcuff Thompson as Potasse went to inform Thompson’s wife of the arrest. Kirk said the wife lived in a detached shed in the backyard of Thompson’s home and recalls being no more than 20 feet away from Potasse and the wife as she handcuffed Thompson.

“(Thompson and his wife) yelled back and forth at each other,” Kirk said, adding that the wife was asking her husband what was going on.

“He said, ‘They’re arresting me. Something about an investigation with the car. I don’t know’… and he said, ‘The car’s been like this for a while right?'”

Kirk told the court she had recorded Thompson’s remarks verbatim.

The defence did not have any further questions for the witness.

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Defence lawyer Lakin Afolabi then motioned for “no case to answer nonsuit on count four,” referring to the charge related to child abduction that Thompson faces.

Afolabi told Justice Alissa Mitchell that he took issue with the portion of the indictment that charges Thompson of having acted “with intent to deprive her parents of her, essentially.”

“The Crown needs to offer some evidence of that intention,” Afolabi said.

The defence lawyer later argued that Thompson acted with the “lawful purpose” of wanting to return the young girl to her parents and referenced the girl’s testimony in the trial in which she stated the man who allegedly abducted her said he’d take her home.

Afolabi’s motion was the topic of a lengthy discussion between the defence, the Crown and Mitchell, with the judge arguing there was evidence that potentially offered insight into Thompson’s intent.

“Whether I accept it or not is an issue for a later time in these proceedings, but we have (Mildred’s) evidence that he is alleged to have removed her pants or pulled her pants down… what if I accept that evidence?” Mitchell said.

The judge later ruled there was sufficient evidence from the Crown to allow her to be “able to infer the requisite mens rea.”

“I can make, as a finding on that evidence, that (Thompson) foresaw that his actions would be certain or substantially certain to result in (the girl’s) parents being deprived of the ability to exercise control over the child,” Mitchell said.

“I thank you for your submissions Mr. Afolabi, but your motion is dismissed or denied at this point.”

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Following a break for lunch, Thompson indicated to the court that he did not wish to testify.

“I’m already a nervous wreck, I can’t testify,” Thompson could be heard saying when asked directly by Mitchell if he wished to speak.

Afolabi noted that the defence did not wish to call on any further evidence.

Closing arguments for the trial are set to begin 1 p.m. Friday.

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