March 01, 2013 - 5:26 PM
By Shannon Quesnel
A 23-year-old woman was sentenced to 12 months probation and given a $500 fine for punching an RCMP constable in the face and disturbing the peace.
Melissa Kruger pleaded guilty at Penticton Provincial Court on Thursday to assaulting a police officer and causing a disturbance. She was busted nearly eight months ago following an incident at a Penticton liquor store.
Judge Gregory Koturbash said assaulting a police officer normally warrants a harsher sentence.
“If we were to simply slap you on the wrist that would send the wrong message,” he said.
In his sentencing Koturbash said he weighed the fact Kruger has no criminal record and noted that she works at a Yukon mine site and has aboriginal heritage. He said alcohol abuse among aboriginal citizens requires special consideration in the case because Kruger was drunk at the time of her arrest. Before she was busted, she had entered a Penticton liquor store to buy alcohol. Store clerks refused her. Kruger yelled and left. She was later approached by RCMP Const. Mike Moore.
“It degenerated rather quickly at that point,” Crown lawyer Vern Frolick said.
The situation was made worse when a friend of Kruger's arrived. Moore called for more police. At one point Kruger punched Moore in the head. More officers showed up and Kruger was taken into custody.
Defense lawyer Jack Kruger said this was out-of-character for her.
"This was a bad night for her," he said.
Moore was in the courtroom on Thursday and he echoed Kruger's statement. He did point out the time it took to deal with the situation.
“I had to call four other members and we were all tied up with this one incident.”
Koturbash praised the officer's restraint during the event and Moore's lack of a grudge against the accused.
“Events could have turned ugly,” the judge said. He explained officers have multiple means to subdue a suspect but Moore chose to be as gentle as possible.
The judge said he was happy Kruger pleaded guilty to the two counts but it would have been better if she made the plea before her short trial on Thursday.
Koturbash wanted her to attend regular counseling for any alcohol problems but her lawyer said that would be impossible at the Yukon job site.
“She is way out in the boonies. There's really no counseling out there.”
As part of her probation the judge said she is to consume no alcohol for 12 months.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at email@example.com or call 250-488-3065.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013