Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray is appealing his sex assault conviction and sentencing. (THE NEWS files)

Update: Former Metro Vancouver area councillor appealing sexual assault conviction

David Murray granted release from custody

A former Pitt Meadows city councillor is appealing his conviction for sexually assaulting a teenage girl more than 20 years ago, and was granted bail.

David Murray was in court Friday morning to appeal both his conviction and sentence. He also applied to be released from custody until his appeal is heard, and was granted his freedom.

Murray was sentenced to nine months in jail on March 21, and has been incarcerated for the 16 days since.

He was found guilty in October 2017, when he was still on council, of having molested a 13 or 14-year-old girl he employed in 1992.

Murray has hired a new lawyer, Matthew Nathanson, and had a bail hearing in the Court of Appeal in Vancouver on Friday morning.

Crown media spokesperson Dan McLaughlin explained it is not unusual for people convicted of crimes to seek release while they appeal, particularly if they were not in custody prior to their sentencing.

Murray’s former lawyer, Bob Robertson, had argued for a six-month conditional sentence, or house arrest, but the judge agreed with Crown counsel Wendy Wakabayashi’s position – that a sentence of nine to 12 months of “real jail” time was appropriate.

Judge Deirdre Pothecary said in her decision that sentences have been rising for sexual assaults against children “as society recognizes the horrific consequences.”

Murray is also appealing sentencing terms that include a “no go” order for Pitt Meadows, which say he is only allowed in the city where the victim resides to drive through or pass through on transit.

Crown agreed in sentencing that Murray is not a risk to reoffend, and his crime “seems to be a singular incident.”

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