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Vernon judge ruffles feathers by refusing to sentence alleged fraudster

Vernon Courthouse
September 15, 2015 - 4:30 PM

"I CAN’T BE THROWING PEOPLE IN JAIL WHO SAY ‘I DIDN’T DO IT’"

VERNON - A bit of courthouse drama unfolded at the Vernon Law Courts Monday when a judge refused to sentence an accused fraudster on charges she wouldn’t admit to committing.

Desiree Dorothy Pelletier is charged with forgery, theft of $5,000 or under and breaching court ordered conditions in relation to events dating back four-and-a-half years ago to when she’s alleged to have stolen cheques and made them out to herself. The forgery and theft offences were allegedly committed in Penticton and Okanagan Falls, and the breaches in Vernon.

When Provincial Court Judge Mayland McKimm read out the list of offences, Pelletier denied committing them — much to the surprise of her supporters in the gallery. He then ordered a trial date to be scheduled, where evidence would be heard in the case and Pelletier would be found either guilty or not guilty.

The ruling drew an outburst from two people in the courtroom, who appeared to know Pelletier and yelled at her as she was escorted away by court sheriffs that she was supposed to plead guilty. They addressed McKimm, asking him to reconsider the trial, but the judge was having none of it.

“I’m not going to sentence someone to jail if they don’t accept what they’re said to have done,” McKimm said.

He explained it is the Crown’s responsibility to prove an accused person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt — a high burden, but a fundamental one.

“I can’t be throwing people in jail who say ‘I didn’t do it,’” McKimm said. "It's been an interesting civic discourse but we need to move on."

A trial date is expected to be finalized sometime next week.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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