Judge puts over Adams sentencing, previously convicted of animal abuse
Those waiting with bated breath to hear what Judge J. Shriar would hand convicted animal abuser Catherine Adams for a sentence, will have to wait until November 2 after the Judge delayed sentencing yet again to ponder the intricacies of the laws surrounding the case.
While many believed the case to be cut and dry, Shriar said the question was if Adams, who was found guilty in February 2018 on two counts of animal cruelty, was a first or second time offender as she’d been sentenced for animal cruelty charges in B.C. in 2015 after being charged in Alberta just weeks prior.
When asked if she was currently facing any other charges Adams admitted she had an outstanding charge in Quesnel, B.C. regarding a breach of her current release conditions which prohibit her from being around animals.
Shriar asked for clarification on if the dogs were in her care and control when she was living in Quesnel, to which Adams replied no, the 16 dogs in question were her grandmothers.
Adams Charter Application regarding several details of the case was denied by Judge Shriar, who noted that while her point regarding the lack of being able to access the dogs to gather their own evidence might hold some weight in appeals court, a charter application must be made before evidence is heard during a trial, and not after.
“Everything you’ve raised (in the charter application) is an appeal issue,” Shriar explained to Adams.
Adams voiced several complaints regarding the presentence report, noting she did not say that she got into the most trouble when she was with her mother. She added she did not drop out of school in Grade 6 because of being bullied, but rather she did not care to return to the education system.
Additionally, she noted, she had not self-diagnosed herself with depression and PTSD but rather a court ordered clinical psychologist had suggested it might be part of the issue.
Adams said the presentence report claims she was opposed to medical treatment was also inaccurate as she simply was not in favour of medication.
Finally, in regards to the point in the report that said she was not attempting to find gainful employment, Adams said the root cause was the conditions imposed by her various court matters.
She told Judge Shriar because she was not to be in the care or control of animals, it was difficult to know where the line was drawn.
If, for example, she worked at a restaurant with a fish tank and was asked to feed the fish, would that put her in breach of her 20-year-Canada-wide ban?
If she were to be employed as a house cleaner and cleaned an area designated for pets, would that put her in breech? Crown Attorney R. Pedersen noted he felt the points raised by Adams did not impact the overall assessment made in the presentence report.
“I haven’t seen many presentence reports that are as negative as this one,” he noted of the report.
Pedersen noted while the case had a number of aggravating factors, like the report’s repeated note of Adam’s lack of remorse and other charges before and after the trial, he did not see any mitigating factors.
He noted the Crown would be seeking jail time, and added while the charges for this case had been laid before Adams was sentenced in her 2015 B.C. matters he felt there was cause to consider her a second time offender given that there were two consecutive incidents, both of which she had been found guilt for.
Adams argued that jail time would not help rehabilitate her, but rather a sentence that had a strong educational component, such as community service hours with the SPCA for example, might help her see what she’d been doing wrong and help her make amends to the community.
Judge Shriar noted given that Adams had maintained she was well versed in animal care and the SPCA standards were too stringent, as well as the fact that she felt she had done nothing wrong made the concept of making amends moot.
“You don’t feel you did anything wrong,” Shriar noted.
Adams said she felt she had failed the animals, especially the two that died after being taken from her care, which she was quick to note was not her fault, but rather due to the fact they escaped the SPCA. “I’m not saying everything was perfect,” she noted.
“I made a bad decision when I left the male husky tied up,” she said, noting she didn’t think at the time the dog could jump over the fence.
She admitted she didn’t know why she hadn’t taken the time to clean the shed, however noted again she believed at the time the dogs had been properly secured in another area of the building and in no danger.
“There are some things I wish I’d done differently,” Adams said. “But not all of what I did was wrong either.”
She said that, putting her in jail would not serve to help her see the errors of her ways, but helping to educate her in proper animal care might.
Judge Shriar asked if Adams was implying that if she’d killed someone not to put her in jail.
Adams noted if someone truly had no remorse, like the report claimed she did, then jail or conditions would not prevent them from doing it again.
“It shows the public if you behave that way you go to jail,” Judge Shriar replied dryly.
“To stop the cycle you need to teach them how,” Adams shot back.
Adams also said Judge Shriar should take into account the public scrutiny that this case, as well as the one in B.C. from 2015 and the 2018 incident had placed her under.
She noted the impact of the public opinion would last all her life, noting some media outlets had even been using her name for incidents she was not involved in, noting that they had said she was involved in an incident in Innisfail, Alberta she had no part in.
Judge Shriar asked if Adams was saying that she had no connection to the situation.
“It wasn’t your grandmother’s dogs?” she asked tonguein-cheek.
Adams replied no, it was not her grandmother who had been at the hotel with the dogs but her mother, adding she herself had not been at that hotel, but media outlets had placed her there none-theless.
Judge Shriar said while she knew there was public interest in the sentencing, she wanted to ensure she properly factored in the sentencing in B.C. to determine, from a legal standpoint, if Adams was a first or second-time offender based on the letter of the law.
“This is not a situation where you will get a discharge,” Judge Shriar explained.
“The idea a conditional sentence would make amends for something you’re not even sorry for,” she noted, defied logic.
Shriar, who was visibly upset during parts of Adams comments during the day, said she felt it would be better if she had time to calm down before sentencing Adams.
With those factors in mind she elected to postpone the sentencing until November 2 at 1 p.m. at the Drumheller Provincial Courthouse.
Catherine Adams was found guilty of two counts of animal cruelty at the Hanna Provincial Courthouse in Hanna, Alta. on Feb. 28. Sentencing has been postponed to November 1 at Drumheller Provincial Court.