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Court case for man accused of confining teen in Nova Scotia delayed

David James Leblanc, facing charges of sexually assaulting and confining a teenage boy, is returned on a RCMP aircraft to Halifax, on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. Mr. Leblanc was arrested in Northern Ontario and his co-accused, Wayne Alan Cunningham, was found dead.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The case of a man charged with confining and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy has been delayed while Nova Scotia Legal Aid looks for a private lawyer to represent him.

David James Leblanc appeared Tuesday in Bridgewater provincial court, three weeks after he was arrested in northern Ontario.

The 47-year-old man faces seven charges, including sexual assault, sexual assault causing bodily harm, forcible confinement and administering a noxious substance with intent to cause bodily harm.

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Judge Gregory Lenehan ordered Mr. Leblanc to remain in custody and adjourned the case until Nov. 14 after legal aid lawyer Barry Whynot said his office is seeking a private lawyer to represent the accused.

Mr. Whynot said a lawyer assigned to the case in his office had a conflict of interest on the matter, adding he could not disclose precisely what the problem was.

"We had a brief summary of the Crown disclosure from the police which revealed some of the details. We reviewed that and determined that we had a conflict of interest in the office," he said outside the court.

"We're attempting to find somebody to represent him in these matters."

The RCMP launched an investigation into the case last month after a woman reported that a teen showed up at her doorstep in Upper Chelsea, N.S., seeking help. The woman told police the boy was barefoot and chained at his wrists and ankles.

Police later issued arrest warrants for Mr. Leblanc and a co-accused, 31-year-old Wayne Alan Cunningham, whose body was found in northern Ontario near where Mr. Leblanc was arrested. Foul play is not suspected in his death.

Mr. Leblanc, whose feet were wrapped in blue hospital slippers during his court appearance Tuesday, was arrested Sept. 30 in Greenstone, Ont., after officers received a report of a man wandering without shoes and wearing light clothing in near-freezing temperatures. He was flown to Halifax after receiving medical treatment.

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Prosecutor Lloyd Tancock said outside court that he is hopeful that a bail hearing can be held on Nov. 14, but both he and Mr. Whynot said that will depend on whether the lawyer hired has enough time to prepare an application for bail.

"We want to move this along," said Mr. Tancock.

Normally during a bail hearing, the Crown would argue why an accused should be kept in custody while awaiting trial. But in this case, Mr. Leblanc will have to argue why he should be released because he is also charged with breaching earlier court conditions on a prior release.

In 2010, Mr. Leblanc was released from custody in connection with unrelated charges of possessing digital images of child pornography, sexual assault and touching a person under the age of 16. That hearing is scheduled for Nov. 26.

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