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Man accused of violent assault in Wasaga Beach trailer park acquitted

Gary Costa, 42, outside the courthouse in Collingwood, Ont., on Fri., March 15, 2024. (CTV News/Mike Arsalides) Gary Costa, 42, outside the courthouse in Collingwood, Ont., on Fri., March 15, 2024. (CTV News/Mike Arsalides)
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A Toronto man accused of a violent assault at a Wasaga Beach trailer park two years ago has been found not guilty.

Justice Enno Meijers delivered the decision to the accused, Gary Costa, in a virtual courtroom in Collingwood on Monday morning.

Meijers stated in part, "Although I am satisfied something happened [to the complainant] on Friday night or Saturday morning, I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Costa had anything to do with it."

The three-day trial was held in Collingwood in March.

Costa, 42, was accused of assaulting his neighbour in a Wasaga Beach trailer park in late July 2022, an alleged encounter that left the man with a brain bleed and serious injuries to his eyes and face.

The defence argued Costa had nothing to do with the brutal attack and insisted a lack of physical evidence showed Costa could not have caused the injuries.

Costa testified during the trial he never touched the man.

His lawyer, Allison Cormie-Bowins, told the court the alleged victim was neither a credible witness nor a reliable witness, and accused him of changing his story about what happened and who may have been responsible.

"He has a history of lying. He has a history of violating court orders. He has a history of violence, and in this case, we know that he lied to the police. He changed his stories within about 24 hours of the incident occurring. We know that he is an alcoholic and had a blood alcohol content of 240 the following morning when he was admitted to the hospital," Cormie-Bowins argued.

The judge agreed while giving his reasons for the acquittal.

"I have no idea what actually happened [to the complainant,]" said Meijers. "But he was injured by someone, or he was impaired and injured himself by falling."

The judge continued with, "Mr. Costa's evidence simply makes sense to me."

A picture presented at trial shows Gary Costa's neighbour's trailer in Wasaga Beach, Ont. (Court exhibit)

During the trial, the Crown argued Costa was enraged by the events in the trailer park and vented his frustrations at the man.

"You were fed up with him and were going to take matters into your own hands," the Crown accused.

The court was shown several exhibit photos of a bloody scene inside the man's trailer. The Crown alleged Costa beat the man and left him bloodied, grabbed a kitchen knife and held it to the man's eye while threatening him.

The defence argued, "Despite everything, he has absolutely no bad blood with Mr. Costa. He either does not remember what happened, or he is lying, and I don't know which one it is. And because I don't know which one it is, neither can Your Honour."

The court was shown several surveillance videos of what appeared to be the man intoxicated, stumbling and falling over.

The defence said the alleged victim suffers from the effects of brain atrophy from a history of head injuries and potential effects of alcoholism.

The judge said he found the complainant's version of events did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt Costa was responsible for the alleged beating and could not rely on the man's recollection to convict Costa.

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