Assault over phone leads to time behind bars

Court news from Port Hardy Law Courts include an assault.

PORT HARDY— A missing cellphone escalated to time behind bars for a local woman in court activity last week.

Bonnie Flanagan faced charges from assault to uttering threats after an incident in November last year.

Police responded to a call from Bonnie’s mother Sharon, saying she had been assaulted and that Bonnie was “freaking out” at Sharon’s Coal Harbour Road residence. Sharon informed police that Cal, Bonnie’s father, had also been assaulted and threatened with a knife.

When police arrived Bonnie had locked herself in the basement suite of her parents’ home, where she was living at the time of the incident. She told police to stay out and threatened self-harm.

After hearing the threats of suicide, the officers breached the locked basement door and arrested and handcuffed Bonnie, who was resistant throughout.

On being escorted from the premises, Bonnie sank her teeth into Cst. Miller’s  forearm and the officer punched Bonnie in the kidney to force her to release her grip.

Once Bonnie had been secured, officers called for a doctor to assess her in light of her threat of suicide.

The incident began after Bonnie became convinced that her brother had stolen her cellphone. She began yelling at her father, Cal, and quickly escalated to screaming obscenities and throwing objects in the home. She then punched her 75-year-old father before storming out of the room.

When she returned she was brandishing a knife, which she used to cut into furniture and walls before pointing it towards Cal. Sharon threatened to call the police and Bonnie told her that “if the cops come I’ll be back and bust every window.”

Her parents described her actions as “normal behavior” for her, albeit more violent than usual. The court heard that Bonnie has battled a long-running addiction to alcohol and was under the influence at the time of the incident.

Sharon suggested that Bonnie’s son had taken the cellphone and Bonnie responded by punching Cal six times in the head, slapping Sharon, and threatening to “take the two of [them] out” with a knife.

The responding officers’ report described Bonnie as “beligerent”, and said her parent were in fear of her.

Bonnie had appeared before the court on this matter and had been released under her own recognizance to await trial, but failed to appear for the scheduled continuation. She was then arrested and detained, remaining in custody since June 14.

Court heard the 45-year-old Bonnie has a criminal record stretching back to 1984 with several alcohol-related charges.

Bonnie’s parents prepared a victim impact statement and told the court that “we will continue to love her but will no longer stand by and allow these actions.” They also asked the court not impose a no-go order in the disposition which would prevent their daughter from seeing them or her son.

Crown initially asked for a six- to nine-month sentence for the assaults followed by probation in conjunction with a weapons prohibition and a DNA collection order. This drew a rebuke of sorts from the presiding justice, Judge Dohm, who asked Crown to check the maximum sentence for the charges listed under the Canadian Criminal Code. Crown consulted the CCC and informed the Judge that six months was the maximum for each.

Counsel for the Defence, Paul Grier, made a plea for clemency in his submission to the Judge.

Grier pointed to Bonnie’s alcoholism as the root cause for her trouble with the law. He pointed to her record and drew attention to the fact that her last violent offence was in 1985, and that all incidents since have had alcohol as a common factor.

He informed the court that, although not a mitigating factor, Bonnie has suffered with chronic pain after an accident which requires access to medical care.

He also informed the court of Bonnie’s continued progress with a recovery and addictions treatment program and spoke on a personal level of his own experience with Bonnie, noting a marked improvement in attitude, lucidity and temperament in the time he had been in contact with her.

He asked that the court consider a conditional discharge, pointing to the fact that Bonnie now has her own apartment and a treatment plan in place.

“Ms Flanagan’s behavior on the night of the offence was unbridled,” said Judge Dohm. “Her conduct towards her elderly parents was without application of rationality.”

In deliberating, the judge took into consideration the time served but said that Bonnie carried a “high risk of future violence, particularly if she has a relapse.”

His verdict was that Bonnie should serve four months in the community. With a few exceptions, the sentence carries a 24-hour curfew with no drugs or alcohol allowed, and is contingent on attendance of a treatment program.

She was also given 18 months probation, ordered to submit a DNA sample to RCMP, and given a five-year firearm ban.


Pot nets probabtion

Quadra Island resident Gregory Burrage appeared to answer charges of possession of a controlled substance.

Burrage was the passenger in a vehicle stopped at the Port alice turnoff by the RCMP in September of last year.

When the officer approached the vehicle he could immediately smell marihuana from within the vehicle.

When the officer approached Burrage reached into a bag in the car a produced two bags of marihuana, totaling around two and a quarter ounces.

On further inspection the officer noticed a leaf protruding from a tote in the back and discovered a number of marijuana plants in two totes, measuring from 8-18 inches.

Burrage immediately claimed responsibility and told the officer that the driver was unaware of his cargo.

Counsel for the Defense also informed the court that, while they accepted that an offence had occurred,  Burrage has obtained a medical marihuana license since the offence.

Judge Dohm was content to grant a conditional discharge and six months probation, saying that Burrage was  “a man who got himself ahead of his paperwork.”


Prank goes overboard

An intended prank that went too far landed 21-year-old Russell Walkus in hot water.

Walkus was leaving an apartment complex on Rupert Street in Port Hardy and decided to pull the fire alarm. The building was subsequently evacuated and four fire trucks responded with a total of twenty volunteers.

Walkus was recorded on a surveillance camera committing the offence and was subsequently arrested.

Crown quoted a figure of $500 per truck per hour as the cost of responding to a fire call, the figure coming from a provincial report. Crown asked that the Judge impose a $500 fine as a punitive measure on top of $2000 restitution.

The Judge asked Crown why the figure was so high for a volunteer fire service but Crown was unable to give a detailed breakdown, noting that the figure was taken from a provincial report and suggesting the figure may relate to the operation of machinery.

The Judge informed the defendant that his actions put people at risk, saying that they were “not at all prankish.”

The Judge ordered Walkus to pay a $500 fine and perform 50 hours of community work as a punitive measure.

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