Bomb threat suspect testifies at her own trial
Dorothy Carnell claims she didn’t call in threat against Dwight Ball in Placentia
While admitting she was caught on video with her mouth to the receiver of a payphone police linked to a call threatening the safety of Dwight Ball, Dorothy Carnell claims it wasn’t her that did it.
The 52-year-old testified at her own trial Thursday, Feb. 9, in Harbour Grace provincial court. She’s charged with uttering threats to cause death to Ball, conveying false information by reporting to police there was a bomb, causing public mischief, and uttering threats to damage or destroy property.
In previous testimony, Const. A. Mezdour said he saw Carnell that day outside the Placentia Mall, which was evacuated after RCMP dispatch received a call at 1:36 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2015. Ball, now the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, was campaigning with local Liberal candidate Sherry GambinWalsh prior to the fall election.
They eventually traced the call to a payphone near one of the mall entrances. Observing security footage, Mezdour saw two people use the phone that day — a man in the morning and then a woman at around the time the call was received.
Observing security footage, Mezdour recognized the woman’s clothing as the same outfit Carnell was wearing that day. Placentia RCMP arrested her that night, with Mezdour questioning Carnell at the local detachment.
Testifying last Thursday, Carnell was adamant it wasn’t her who contacted police.
“I’m not that stupid to go up into a public building where there’s surveillance cameras,” said Carnell, adding she didn’t know who Dwight Ball was at the time.
According to her testimony, Carnell was at the mall twice that day. A taxi driver for a local cab company, she first stopped in at a store to kill some time, then received a call to pick someone up.
Carnell returned to the mall about an hour later to visit a Christmas gift shop. That store was located next to GambinWalsh’s campaign headquar- ters. She recalls standing close to Ball as someone whispered a message in his ear, after which he left the mall. She said it was at this point she went to the phone.
Carnell said she held the receiver for a couple of minutes as she pondered making a call of a personal nature.
Under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Natalie Payne, Carnell was confronted with the fact she initially told police she didn’t use the payphone, then later said she made a personal call on it. Carnell told the court she very well could have made a call, noting she had taken medication the night of her arrest.
“I have memory lapses — it comes and goes,” she said.
When asked why she didn’t consider using one of the two cellphones she had at the time, Carnell said she didn’t want the other person to know her number. She refused to reveal what the personal matter entailed.
In his closing argument, defence lawyer Tim O’Brien said the police investigation was incomplete, as no attempt was made to obtain a production order from the phone company. He also noted police failed to follow up on a second suspect identified early in the investigation.
Acknowledging there were some inconsistencies in Carnell’s testimony, O’Brien highlighted the fact she was adamant about not being the person who contacted authorities.
Payne felt the only issue of note Carnell raised was not making the call herself. Otherwise, the Crown prosecutor said the evidence was overwhelming in proving beyond a reasonable doubt the woman was guilty.
She characterized Carnell’s testimony as “not believable” given the inconsistencies. Payne also considered the police investigation thorough in proving her guilt.
Judge Bruce Short will render his decision at the Placentia Courthouse Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m.
“I’m not that stupid to go up into a public building where there’s surveillance cameras.” — Dorothy Carnell
Dorothy Carnell at Harbour Grace Provincial Court.
The scene outside the Placentia Mall following its evacuation on Nov. 14, 2015.