Friday, June 15, 2012

False claims, 26-month sentence

A 42-year-old woman has learned that lies can be expensive – especially when they trigger costly police investigations.

By Sue Yanagisawa, Kingston Whig-Standard

Janice English has been sentenced to 26 months in prison for public mischief that put a former boyfriend behind bars for three months in 2009 and impaired driving last fall.

She’s also prohibited for two years from driving as a consequence of the impaired driving conviction – her second. And Justice Rommel Masse has issued two free-standing restitution orders against her, totalling $14,718.54, more than half of it payable to the Attorney General to recover the cost of arresting the man falsely accused by English and bringing him back to Ontario from British Columbia. The rest of the money is for damage she did to a car she hit while driving impaired on an e-bike.

The mischief and assault charges stem from incidents in early 2009 and English initially began her trial in the fall of 2010. That proceeding was declared a mistrial, however, when the judge hearing it retired for health reasons before the evidence could be completed.

A new trial was scheduled, which was heard by Justice Masse over several days in January this year. He convicted her on the public mischief in late February, but acquitted her of the assault, finding that there was evidence she and her former boyfriend had been involved in a mutual fight.

English then pleaded guilty to the September 2011 impaired driving charge and her case was initially put over to April for the preparation of a pre-sentence report, then re-scheduled to this week.

The roots of English’s charges go back to January 2009, after her then boyfriend was convicted of assaulting her and received an intermittent weekend jail sentence, absconding for the west coast before completing it.

After he was gone, English went to Kingston Police, complaining that before he’d left the man assaulted her again, brutally raped her multiple times and in various ways and afterward forced her into a bathtub where he poured bleach over her to destroy evidence. She also claimed that he threatened her with a gun, held her prisoner, at one point, duct-taped her to a chair and inflicted cruelties on her dog.
Masse was told that Kingston Police took the accusations seriously enough that they located her former partner in Vancouver and flew there to charge him and bring him back

The man was sent to Quinte Detention on Feb. 16, 2009, and remained there until May 1 that year, with multiple allegations, including sexual assault charges, hanging over his head.

The whole time he was there he insisted it was a fabrication and he hadn’t done any of it. And as assistant Crown attorney Janet O’Brien noted in her closing argument, English’s claims just wouldn’t hold up under scrutiny.

Eventually, police and the Crown attorney’s office became convinced they were holding a man in custody based on falsehoods. The charges against him were dropped and English was charged with public mischief in his stead.

“Her first statement is at odds with her second,” O’Brien told the judge and the more times English repeated her tale the more inconsistent it became.

Moreover, the man she accused claimed that English had blackmailed him into continuing their relationship by threatening that if he didn’t come to see her - in contravention of court orders - she’d accuse him of assaulting her again to police.

Her victim told Kingston Police investigators that he left the city before completing his intermittent sentence, however, after English, who worked as a bartender at the time, convinced some men of her acquaintance to beat him up.

Masse, in his judgement convicting English, noted that it was evident in photos the Kingston officers took after arresting him in Vancouver that he had been severely beaten.

But he also found there was evidence he and English had assaulted each other the night before he fled, and there was insufficient evidence of the involvement of the others he’d named.

With regard to English’s other accusations, however, Masse said, “I am satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that the video statement [she gave police] is a complete fabrication,” and her accounts to police were comprised of nothing but “outright lies, half-truths and omissions.”

With regard to the impaired driving charge, O’Brien told the judge that English was riding an e-bike west on Hwy. 2 on the evening of Sept. 13, last year, when she crossed the centre line, just west of Glenview Avenue, and collided with an eastbound car.

She suffered an injury to her stomach and a gash to her kneecap, which was later found to have been broken during the impact.

However, Masse was told that English managed to convince a total stranger at the scene to open the rear compartment of her e-bike and toss an apple juice bottle he found there into a nearby ditch.

The female passenger in the car retrieved it and turned it over to police. O’Brien said the bottle still smelled strongly of alcohol.

Yet, English denied drinking, O’Brien told the judge. She told paramedics that she was a recovering alcoholic and that mouthwash was the only alcohol she’d touched - even though her blood-alcohol concentration was later found to be 220 mg per 100 ml of her blood, close to three times the legal limit.

At her sentencing, this week, O’Brien emphasized those additional lies and observed that even as her pre-entence reports was being written English wasn’t coming clean. She told her family she’d been intoxicated on methadone that night, O’Brien said. She also pointed out that English’s current boyfriend disclosed to the author of her pre-sentence report that she’d received her one-year sobriety pin from AA in November - and she accepted it, two months after she’d been charged with impaired driving.

O’Brien, noting that this was also English’s second public mischief conviction, urged the judge to send her to prison for 30 to 36 months.

Defence lawyer Matt Hodgson tried to convince Masse to give his client a conditional sentence and house arrest, arguing that she’s the main support for her mother.

“Please don’t take me away from my mother,” English entreated the judge.

“I’m not,” he told her. “You are.”