It took her a few moments to compose herself enough to stand when Judge Harold Porter asked a 31-year-old Corner Brook woman if she had anything to say.
It was seconds before he gave her a suspended sentence and placed her on probation for two years on a charge of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose on Friday.
As the woman slowly stood up in provincial court in Corner Brook she looked towards the image of Porter on television screen in the courtroom. Porter appeared via videoconference from the court in Grand Bank.
When she did start to speak, it was through tears that the woman said she understood what she did was wrong.
The incident that brought her before the court was one that completely turned her life around and that she was trying to move on and make things better.
“I’m just sorry,” said the woman, who cannot be identified due to a court ordered publication ban to protect the identity of any child witnesses who may have been part of the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.
On Oct. 25, 2017 the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were called to the woman’s home on Clarence Street to a report of a domestic disturbance, during which a firearm was discharged.
The woman and her former partner had been drinking and got into an argument. At one point the woman went into their bedroom and took a handgun out of a bedside table. She cocked the gun, which was loaded, and fired a bullet into the floor.
Not sure where the bullet went, the man went downstairs where some of their children were sleeping. No one was injured.
The woman first told police she had no explanation for removing the gun and that it went off by accident. She later said maybe she wanted to scare the man by harming herself.
The man told police the gun was his, that he had recently cleaned it and failed to return it to a safe storage area.
Crown attorney Brenda Duffy, said the circumstances of the offence were serious with the gun going off in a home where there were children. She also noted the weapon being fired was linked to the disagreement between the couple and that involved the use of alcohol.
She noted the woman has a history of substance abuse and a prior conviction for drinking and driving.
She suggested a conditional sentence of three months followed by two years of probation.
The woman’s lawyer, John Noseworthy, asked for just probation and noted she is doing all the things she needs to do to turn her life around and house arrest could impact her ability to do that.
In sentencing her, Porter said this was a case where rehabilitation is the uppermost or primary concern and the woman has demonstrated insight into what has happened.
He said the correct approach would be to suspend the passing of sentence and place her on probation for two years.
With a suspended sentence the woman can be brought back to court and sentenced for the offence if she breaches the conditions of her probation order. A suspended sentence still means the woman will have a criminal conviction as part of her record.
The conditions of her probation include that she not reside in any residence where firearms are stored and that she attend any awareness or counselling program recommended by her probation officer with regards to substance abuse and anger management.
She’s also prohibited from owning or possessing any firearm or ammunition for a period of 10 years and must pay a $100 victim fine surcharge to the court.