Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sentence suspended in false rape case

Crown distances case from later stabbing

An 18-year-old woman who twice falsely reported being raped by an unknown black man last summer received a suspended sentence and 18 months probation Thursday after serving 58 days in jail.

April Ibbotson, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to mischief by misleading police to believe she had been sexually assaulted June 21 and again July 24, both times in Owen Sound.

The claims prompted a week’s worth of wasted police time and came within weeks of the near-fatal beating and stabbing of a black man wrongly accused of rape in downtown Owen Sound in late July, Crown lawyers handling the case have told the court.

Ibbotson also pleaded guilty to failing to attend court Nov 6. She turned herself in Nov. 11 and had been in jail since.

Thursday she was sentenced in the Ontario Court of Justice and was released.
Justice Julia Morneau considered the young woman’s difficult past as presented by defence lawyer Jill Gamble. Gamble referred sparingly to details in a presentence report but did say Ibbotson has endured sexual abuse and suffers from addiction and “significant physical ailments.”

“You have mental health and addiction issues,” Morneau told Ibbotson. She expressed hope probation will help her.

Her order contains terms for assessments and counselling, bans alcohol and drug use unless by prescription and limits the people with whom Ibbotson may associate.

Assistant Crown attorney Peter Leger joined the defence in recommending the sentence, which counted Ibbotson’s jail time double, the equivalent of almost four months.

Leger said of Ibbotson’s false accusations of rape, “perhaps it’s understandable” given her background. He noted police think she needs counselling.

Leger also took pains not to blame Ibbotson for the stabbing, which is alleged was fueled by mistaken accusations the victim had raped someone. “I’m not suggesting she caused anybody’s injuries because of the false reports,” Leger said. He blamed the “rumour mill in downtown Owen Sound.”

Leger said though assumptions could be made, there was no evidence that the rape allegations made against the victim of the stabbing referred to Ibbotson’s rape claims.

A trial in Superior Court is scheduled to start Feb. 2 before a judge alone for four young men charged in the July attack on a 42-year-old black man on the city’s main street.

William Werner, 23, of no fixed address, Cody Doherty, Shawn Dyer and Blaine McEachern, all 19 and all of Owen Sound, face charges including two counts of assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and robbery. All remain in jail.

A 17-year-old girl already pleaded guilty in youth court to assault in the main street incident that led to the beating and stabbing. She received two years probation. She can’t be identified under rules governing young offenders.

Police say the victim was falsely accused of rape by a female hours before he was approached on main street by the 17-year-old, who had been drinking. She hit and used racial slurs against him while he called police on his cellphone and defended himself, police said.

Police said the 17-year-old summoned help from a nearby apartment.
Witnesses saw five or six men beating the victim. He was rushed to hospital in a cab and underwent emergency surgery. He had been stabbed at least once in the chest.

Link to the story is here: