De­fence, Crown at odds over sen­tenc­ing in Dwight Ball bomb threat case

The Compass - - Sports - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

A pro­vin­cial court judge will take a cou­ple of months to de­cide whether a woman who called in a bomb threat against New­found­land and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball de­serves jail time or house ar­rest.

Dorothy Joan Car­nell was back in court last Wed­nes­day for sen­tenc­ing sub­mis­sions. Judge Bruce Short found the 53-year-old Placentia res­i­dent guilty ear­lier this year on charges of 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.

The in­ci­dent lead­ing up to Car­nell’s ar­rest hap­pened Nov. 14, 2015, when the Lib­eral leader was in the mid­dle of an elec­tion cam­paign. He was at the Placentia Mall that day to visit lo­cal can­di­date Sherry Gam­bin-Walsh when a call came in to an RCMP dis­patcher in­di­cat­ing there was a bomb in the build­ing. The mall was evac­u­ated shortly there­after.

Video sur­veil­lance footage placed Car­nell at the pay­phone in­side the mall that RCMP de­ter­mined the call orig­i­nated from. When asked why she did it, the caller told the RCMP dis­patcher, “I just don’t like Dwight Ball,” ad­ding she was aware of his sched­uled visit. Placentia RCMP ar­rested Car­nell later that evening.

At the Placentia court­house Wed­nes­day, Crown pros­e­cu­tor Paul This­tle recommended a seven-month jail sen­tence for Car­nell. He ar­gued there were a num­ber of ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors to con­sider.

The fact she said there was a bomb in the build­ing threat­ened the safety of many, he noted. The in­ci­dent tied up emer­gency re­sources for sev­eral hours and im­pacted the bot­tom line for busi­nesses forced to close. Fi­nally, This­tle pointed out the in­ci­dent threat­ened a pub­lic fig­ure, which he ar­gued con­sti­tutes a threat to democ­racy it­self.

This­tle was also trou­bled by the fact Car­nell failed to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for her ac­tions. In the pre-sen­tenc­ing re­port, he noted Car­nell told its au­thor she was charged and found guilty for be­ing in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer had some­thing against her.

Let­ters filed by lo­cal busi­nesses and the pro­vin­cial Lib­eral party high­lighted the fi­nan­cial im­pact of the in­ci­dent. Sobeys in Placentia in­di­cated lost rev­enue that day amounted to $18,500.

De­fence lawyer Tim O’Brien recommended a 12-month con­di­tional sen­tence. He char­ac­ter­ized Car­nell’s crime as “an im­ma­ture type of of­fence” and cited the tone of the call to po­lice as an in­di­ca­tor that her act was im­pul­sive and not pre­planned. O’Brien made ref­er­ence to her dif­fi­cult up­bring­ing and men­tal health strug­gles, ac­knowl­edg­ing she’s sought treat­ment mul­ti­ple times.

Car­nell has one un­re­lated prior con­vic­tion dat­ing back to 1998. O’Brien also brought up com­ments in the pre-sen­tenc­ing re­port from Sgt. Dale Foote in­di­cat­ing Placentia RCMP views Car­nell as more of a “pub­lic nui­sance” rather than a threat to the pub­lic. Foote added she was well known to po­lice at the time of the in­ci­dent.

Short is sched­uled to make a de­ci­sion on sen­tenc­ing Aug. 30 at the Placentia court­house.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Dorothy Car­nell en­ter­ing Har­bour Grace Pro­vin­cial Court in 2016.

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