Blue Line

Halifax police supervisor ‘shocked’ that clothing was not collected in rape case

July 19, 2023  By The Canadian Press

July 19, 2023, Halifax, N.S. – A Halifax police supervisor says he was shocked when an alleged sexual assault victim told him her clothing hadn’t been collected as evidence 10 days after her physical exam.

Sgt. Stephen McCormack testified Wednesday before the Nova Scotia Police Review Board in response to a complaint from Carrie Low, who alleges police mishandled her 2018 sexual assault case.

Low reported being abducted and raped in the suburb of East Preston on the night of May 18, 2018. She has testified that the following day, Halifax police Const. Bojan Novakovic interviewed her at a local hospital, sent her home and told her the clothing would be collected that evening.

McCormack, who at the time was a supervisor in the sexual assault unit, said he only learned of this on May 29, 2018, when he returned from vacation and responded to Low’s complaint about the potentially valuable evidence still sitting on a bookshelf at her parent’s home.


“I was a little shocked that she was still in possession of it (the clothing) and a little shocked she was given exhibit bags in order to put items in herself and call for them to be picked up,” he testified.

The review board hearing has heard that DNA evidence can degrade if it’s not refrigerated and is open to tampering if left unsecured for days.

The evidence was eventually tested by a lab, and the DNA found on it in October 2019 was linked to Alexander Thomas, who was charged with sexual assault in 2020. However, Thomas died before his trial, in what police described as a homicide unrelated to the Low case.

McCormack testified that he emailed Novakovic’s supervisor in the patrol division on May 29, 2018, and expressed his concerns about the handling of the evidence.

“I received an email back, after his supervisor spoke to him about it, and he (Novakovic) was extremely apologetic about it, and (Novakovic) acknowledged he had made a mistake and rectified the issue right away,” McCormack told the review board.

Novakovic went through an internal disciplinary process after Low formally complained in May 2019, and his supervisors determined that he was “in neglect of duty” by not seizing the clothing more promptly.

They also found he should have reported the location of the alleged rape to a supervisor to determine if officers would be sent to secure the scene and ensure evidence was preserved.

The board has heard that Low provided the police with the exact location of her alleged rape on May 20, 2018, and told them that her shoe and panties were still there, but police didn’t apply for a search warrant or secure the scene.

Novakovic was docked eight hours of pay for his role in the matter.

Low has appealed the disciplinary decision in Novakovic’s case, and she is seeking wider recommendations from the review board on how the Halifax police handle sexual assault complaints.

Novakovic is expected to testify before the board on Thursday before final submissions are made by the parties.

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