Pro­ba­tion for for­mer CAO

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCIAL - BY CA­ROLE MOR­RIS-UN­DER­HILL

A gam­bling ad­dic­tion plus a se­vere case of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety were taken into con­sid­er­a­tion when the court sen­tenced the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of West Hants’ for­mer chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer on Mon­day.

Ch­eryl Chislett, 55, had pre­vi­ously pleaded guilty to as­sault­ing her hus­band, Richard Chislett, with a ham­mer, and fraud in ex­cess of $5,000.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor Bill Fer­gu­son and de­fence lawyer Chris Man­ning pre­sented Judge Clau­dine Mac­Don­ald with a joint rec­om­men­da­tion, ask­ing for a year’s pro­ba­tion for Chistlett.

“She’s pled guilty to two very dis­sim­i­lar of­fences,” said Man­ning, not­ing Chislett had no prior crim­i­nal record.

On June 21, 2014, “po­lice were dis­patched to a do­mes­tic dis­tur­bance in progress,” said Fer­gu­son. The court was told Chislett’s hus­band was out on the deck play­ing with a grand­child, when she ap­proached him from be­hind and struck him with a ham­mer. He was taken to the hos­pi­tal and later re­leased.

The court learned that Chislett does not have a good rec­ol­lec­tion of events prior to the as­sault.

Man­ning said his client knew her hus­band took the ham­mer away from her and, while she’s not sure what hap­pened that day, she “does ac­cept full re­spon­si­bil­ity for what she did.”

A doc­tor’s re­port was re­ferred to sev­eral times dur­ing the sen­tenc­ing.

“In the re­port, (Chislett’s doc­tor) de­scribes that in the weeks lead­ing up to the event of the ham­mer in­ci­dent, she was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. She found it in­tol­er­a­ble to go to work,” said Man­ning, who said that could tie into her other charge of de­fraud­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Both Man­ning and Fer­gu­son noted that Chislett’s hus­band has stood be­side her through­out the court pro­ceed­ings.

“Clearly, she has a re­mark­ably sup­port­ive and car­ing hus­band who is able to look at the full pic­ture and not just the charges be­fore the court,” said Man­ning. “Mr. Chislett re­mains firmly be­hind his wife, as does his sis­ter and other fam­ily mem­bers.”

The fraud charge was laid in April 2015. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity no­ticed ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in its fi­nan­cial records in 2014 and re­quested the RCMP in­ves­ti­gate. They also had a foren­sic au­dit con­ducted. Chislett had been the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer.

“Chislett is noted to have a gam­bling ad­dic­tion — an ad­dic­tion that was out of con­trol,” said Man­ning. “That cer­tainly is, in large part, the ra­tio­nale we’d ex­pect of why money was taken from her em­ployer.”

The Crown listed sev­eral items that had been found through the au­dit. Most charges were un­der $1,000 and were listed as per­sonal ex­penses ex­cept for one charge, a $10,000 cheque made payable to a law firm in Hal­i­fax. Chislett was sen­tenced to one year of pro­ba­tion, plus a $100 vic­tim sur­charge fine, which is to be paid by Aug. 25.

Chislett

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