A man accused of watching women while they slept was found guilty Tuesday of one count of break and enter, but acquitted of several charges of voyeurism in a case that alarmed many residents of south end Halifax.
A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge found Barry Edward Sinclair guilty of breaking into a home in the early hours of Sept. 15, 2011, and not guilty of illegally entering another home on the same day.
Crown attorney Denise Smith said she was disappointed with the ruling as she felt she presented a strong circumstantial case that contained video evidence and identification of Mr. Sinclair by at least one of the women.
"There was nothing that could have been done in the investigation of this matter that was not done," she said outside court.
"Short of a person being caught in the act, many cases rely on circumstantial evidence. This is such a case."
In the first incident, Judge Michael Wood described in court how a woman living in a flat with several other people said she awoke when she heard a noise in her living and saw a figure standing in her doorway.
The intruder left and a roommate came home to find the front door unlocked, which the residents said was unusual.
Judge Wood said he was satisfied Mr. Sinclair had entered the home because his cellphone was found in a wash bucket in the property.
Judge Wood said another break and enter was called in about 30 minutes later, a kilometre away and close to where Mr. Sinclair was picked up by police after he was spotted wandering around at 5:30 a.m.
In that case, a woman said she was awakened by a bright hallway light as her door was pushed open by what she said was a man coming in the door.
She said he left when she called out to him.
But Judge Wood said conflicting descriptions of the suspect by police and the woman, and the woman's inability to identify Mr. Sinclair in a photo lineup raised enough doubt for an acquittal.
Mr. Sinclair, husky and with closely cropped dark hair, was also found not guilty of five counts of voyeurism related to a video seized from his home of surreptitious recordings of women undressing in their apartments.
But Judge Wood said in his ruling that he was not satisfied the Crown proved Sinclair made the recordings, even though they were found in his apartment.
"There are simply too many questions that remain unanswered," Judge Wood said in his 45-minute ruling.
Mr. Sinclair's lawyer, Luke Craggs, said he was pleased with the court's decision, but would consider appealing the single conviction.
He said the acquittals were consistent with what he called a lack of evidence in the case.
"The conviction, I'm still mulling that over," he said outside court. "Certainly, we recognize that it could have been much worse than it was."
Mr. Sinclair is due back in court on Feb. 25 for sentencing. Neither lawyer would indicate what kind of sentence they will seek, but Ms. Smith said break and enter with intent can carry a life sentence, though she said she wouldn't ask for that.