REGINA – A player who was cut from the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team over an alleged incident of domestic violence has been found not guilty of assault causing bodily harm.
And Justin Cox, 24, says he hopes he can resume his career now.
“Hopefully I get it back. I really want to play with the Roughriders,” Cox said Monday after the decision by provincial court Judge Pat Reis.
“Hopefully I can get to wear that green and white again and you know, play football again, period.”
The defensive back was released by the CFL team on April 19, one day after Regina police charged him as the result of investigation into an allegation of intimate partner violence.
But Reis said there’s no evidence to support the charge after hearing from five Crown witnesses.
“I just don’t see the evidence is there,” Reis said when senior Crown prosecutor Kim Jones attempted to make closing comments in the case.
Jones acknowledged that outside court.
“There has to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that an assault causing bodily harm took place and the Crown’s case didn’t meet that standard,” he said.
The defence decided not to present any evidence or call any witnesses.
Court heard that police were called April 18 about a 23-year-old woman with injuries consistent with a physical attack.
A police officer and an acquaintance of the woman told the court that they saw a bump on her head and bruising after a fight at Regina home. They also said it appeared a braid of hair had been torn from her head.
Riders’ wide receiver, Joe Craig, who was living in the house with Cox, told court that the couple was arguing over the code for an iPhone.
Craig said he was standing between Cox and the woman, and he never saw him hit her.
“No, sir, not all,” Craig testified.
Craig also said Cox did not push her down a flight of stairs, but that she fell.
“When I turned around, she was on the ground,” he said.
The woman told the court that the braid was a loose hair extension that came out when she fell down the stairs.
In her own testimony, she described a rocky relationship.
Court heard police were called to another apartment of the couple because of noise complaints.
The woman said she was unhappy with the attention that she believed Cox was giving to other women and that would lead to arguments where she would scream at him.
“I would get very jealous,” she told the court.
She said Cox would “try to get away from the situation” and that she would physically block the door, jump on him to keep him from leaving and throw things at him. She said he never intentionally hit her.
On April 18, she said they had their “usual argument” and Cox said he was leaving her.
“It made me very angry, much angrier than I’ve been in a very long time,” she said.
Defence lawyer Sharon Fox asked if the woman threatened to ruin Cox’s career and the woman said: “That’s correct.”
The Riders released Cox when the assault charge became public and the CFL also said he would no longer be allowed to play with any team in the league.
The former Mississippi State player had signed a two-year extension with the Roughriders in December after he recorded 42 defensive tackles and four interceptions in 15 games in 2016, en route to being named the team’s most outstanding rookie.
Cox was released by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in 2015 after being arrested and charged with domestic violence twice in less than a year.