Woman has guilty verdict overturned in Manning Park break and enter case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Woman has guilty verdict overturned in Manning Park break and enter case

Image Credit: PEXELS
September 09, 2019 - 12:00 AM

PENTICTON - A woman found guilty in a Penticton courtroom in 2017 of break and enter and theft at a remote Manning Park residence had the decision overturned in the B.C. Court of Appeal earlier this year.

Faye-Ann Muriel Thompson was found guilty of the offences by Judge Meg Shaw following a hearing in early February 2017. The charges stemmed from an incident in Manning Park in August 2014, where she and her boyfriend were working.

The two were cruising the backroads of Manning Park on a day off in early August when she said they got into a fight.

Thompson claimed in court she was dragged out of the vehicle by her hair by her boyfriend, suffered a blow to the head and cuts and bruises after being slapped and punched. She was then left stranded on a remote logging road.

She said spent two hours walking back towards the highway when she came upon a house in a remote location, where she met a man who was trying to gain entrance through an upper window using a ladder. Thompson was arrested after her fingerprint was found on the window.

Thompson testified she helped the man gain access to the house, thinking he was the legitimate owner.

She said the man then gave her a ride all the way to Mission, to the address where she and her boyfriend lived.

According to Thompson’s story, the man turned out to be a thief, who stole a number of items from the residence, including the vehicle they drove to the Lower Mainland in.

Judge Shaw found Thompson’s evidence not believable, saying her actions following her boyfriend’s assault “didn’t accord with common sense,” because she failed to make any effort to contact police about the assault.

The judge took issue with other parts of Thompson’s testimony, including the coincidence of coming across a thief who just happened to be breaking into the house just as Thompson arrived, and the fact he was “just happened” to be heading to the same destination as Thompson and was willing to drive her home.

Thompson, who does not have a prior criminal record, appealed the guilty verdict following Judge Shaw’s February 2017 guilty ruling, and was successful in having it overturned in a B.C. Court of Appeal decision written by Justice Susan Griffin in January.

Justice Griffin called Shaw’s conclusions about Thompson’s behaviour regarding her reaction to her boyfriend’s assault presumptive and stereotypical behaviour exhibited by victims of sexual or domestic assault.

She ruled it an error of law.

“In my view, the judge’s assumption that, as a matter of common sense, a victim of a boyfriend’s assault would call the police soon after, meant that the judge erroneously gave weight to an impermissible factor when assessing the credibility of Ms. Thompson,” Judge Griffin wrote.

“To put it another way, absent the judge’s error in relying on impermissible reasoning regarding the expected behaviour of a domestic assault victim, I cannot find that a conviction would have followed. Given the judge’s emphasis of this point, I cannot say that the judge would necessarily have reached the same conclusion on the appellant's credibility,” Griffin ruled.

Justice Griffin did say, however, there was evidence in the case to support a conviction, but the judge’s reasoning for rejecting Thompson’s evidence was based on “impermissible stereotyping,” and allowed Thompson’s appeal to stand.

The case was sent back for a retrial but the Crown essentially dropped the charge through a stay of proceedings.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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