Top News

Lawyer appears for Halifax cop on shoplifting, gun charges

Defence lawyer James Giacomantonio, left, and Crown attorney Rick Miller talk outside court Monday after Halifax Regional Police officer Jennifer McPhee’s arraignment on seven criminal charges.
Defence lawyer James Giacomantonio, left, and Crown attorney Rick Miller talk outside court Monday after Halifax Regional Police officer Jennifer McPhee’s arraignment on seven criminal charges. - Steve Bruce

A Halifax Regional Police officer chose not to be present for her arraignment Monday on seven criminal charges from a shoplifting incident at a grocery store last month.

Lawyer James Giacomantonio appeared in Halifax provincial court on behalf of Const. Jennifer Lea McPhee, 42.

McPhee, a 17-year member of the force, was off duty when she was arrested Sept. 13 at the Bayers Lake Atlantic Superstore in Halifax. She was released after being given a court date and was suspended with pay.

The officer was wearing a wig and had her partially loaded police handgun in her purse when she was apprehended, sources told The Chronicle Herald last month.

McPhee is charged with theft under $5,000, wearing a disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence, and five counts involving the gun - a Sig Sauer nine-millimetre pistol.

She faces charges of careless use of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, contravening storage regulations, unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm, and unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition.

On Monday, Giacomantonio told the court he has received the evidence in the case from the Crown and needs time to review it with his client.

Crown attorney Rick Miller agreed with Giacomantonio’s request to have the case come back to court in about a month.

“There have been discussions and there continue to be ongoing discussions,” Miller told the judge. “Hopefully, we can resolve it without going to trial.”

Judge Amy Sakalauskas scheduled the case to return to court Nov. 18.

At the request of the Crown, and with the defence’s consent, the judge imposed release conditions on McPhee.

The undertaking requires McPhee to stay away from Atlantic Superstore locations and have no contact with the security officer involved in the incident. She’s also prohibited from having any weapons.

McPhee remains suspended with pay. She had most recently been working as the community response officer for the Spring Garden Road area of Halifax.

When asked how McPhee is doing, Giacomantonio provided a statement to the Herald.

“Const. McPhee is currently receiving treatment for mental health issues relating to these charges,” the lawyer said. “Her health is our primary focus, and we will deal with these charges once she has received treatment.”

In February 2012, McPhee was charged with impaired driving after an employee at a Halifax drugstore reported her to police. She pleaded guilty to having a blood alcohol reading above the legal limit of .08 and received a curative discharge with 18 months’ probation in May 2013.

To grant a conditional discharge for curative reasons, a judge must be satisfied that the offender has a serious alcohol or drug problem and that there is a reasonable chance of rehabilitation through treatment. The judge also has to be convinced that the discharge would not be contrary to the public interest.

The offender is placed on probation with conditions that they take part in a treatment program and abstain from consuming alcohol or drugs. If they successfully complete the probation, they won't have a criminal conviction.

On Monday, police sources said McPhee is being investigated for other shoplifting incidents and could face more charges.

Miller would not confirm or deny that more charges are expected.

“At this point in time, there are no additional charges,” the prosecutor said outside court.

RELATED:

Recent Stories