A Saskatoon woman was sentenced to 18 months in jail for walking into a Saskatoon provincial courtroom during a gang-related assault trial and threatening the complainant, who was in the midst of testifying against her alleged attackers.
On May 14, Corrine Rose Saddleback attempted to sit by one of the accused, was waved off and then left, according to Judge Doug Agnew’s sentencing decision.
She peered through a glass window in the courtroom door until she could get the complainant’s attention, mouthing words to the effect that the woman was lying.
“Ms. Saddleback then made eye contact with the complainant and drew her hand across her own throat in a slashing motion, several times,” Agnew wrote.
Saddleback was arrested in the courthouse and charged with provoking a state of fear in a justice system participant in order to impeded them in the performance of their duties. The 42-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge, which carries a maximum imprisonment of 14 years.
At her sentencing hearing in June, Saddleback did not provide any reasons for her threatening behaviour, and appeared to have very little connection with any of the accused against whom the complainant was testifying, according to the decision.
Saddleback did acknowledge, through a pre-sentence report, that she feels bad for scaring the woman, saying she could relate to her because she had to testify at a murder trial. Agnew said that suggests a greater moral culpability because Saddleback should have known what the witness was experiencing.
Case law shows that the primary goal of sentencing in witness intimidation cases is to denounce and deter others from similar behaviour. Penalties generally range from conditional sentences to 18 months in jail.
Agnew chose the high-end sentence, followed by three years of probation, finding Saddleback deliberately caused fear in a witness at a criminal trial to prevent her from testifying.
“Ms. Saddleback’s actions, occurring in the courthouse itself, aimed at a witness actually testifying, are almost the most brazen form of this offence that can be imagined,” he wrote.
Although Saddleback has significant Gladue factors that must be considered in sentencing — she was abused by her mother’s boyfriend, while in foster care and then by her first spouse — her extensive criminal record and lack of explanation for the latest offence makes it difficult to craft a rehabilitative sentence, Agnew noted.
Saddleback’s probation conditions prevent her from contacting the complainant, who was testifying about having part of her finger cut off while being confined.
“Witnesses must believe that they can safely testify, and any threat to that idea is a threat to the justice system itself,” Agnew wrote.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019