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Pepper-spray attack nets one year in jail

Aug 18 2012

A Victoria woman has been sentenced to a year in jail and banned from Vancouver Island after pepper-spraying two witnesses who testified at Wyatt Prince's second-degree murder trial in 2011.

Earlier this year, Desiree Lemay, 24, pleaded guilty to assaulting Hal Hannon and Christina Gardiner with a weapon, attempting to obstruct the course of justice and breaching probation by having bear spray in her possession.

Both Gardiner and Hannon, an elderly man who received about $40,000 for his work as a confidential informant, testified for the Crown at Prince's jury trial in B.C. Supreme Court.

Prince was convicted of manslaughter in the 2009 death of View Towers resident Paul Rouxel and received a 10-year sentence on Feb. 27, 2012.

The bear spray incident took place a month later, on March 26. Hannon was driving Gardiner to a pharmacy and pulled over in the 900 block of Pandora Avenue. When Gardiner got out of the car, several people started swearing at her.

In her statement to police, Gardiner said: "Lemay called me a f---ing goof for putting Wyatt in jail. She said I would f---ing get what was coming to me and that Hal would f---ing get it too."

Gardiner yelled back, "Wyatt was a murderer and deserved what he got," then went into the store.

Five minutes later, when Gardiner got back in the car, Lemay reappeared and sprayed bear spray into the car, injuring both Gardiner and Hannon.

At Lemay's sentencing hearing on Friday, Victoria provincial court Judge Adrian Brooks imposed a 12-month sentence on Lemay for these offences and another outstanding conviction for theft. This means Lemay, who has been in custody since April must months spend another 7 1 /2 in jail.

A pre-sentence report indicated Lemay had an abusive childhood, and was removed from the family home at the age of six and placed in foster care.

She has been couch surfing since the age of 16 and is now plagued by drug and alcohol problems.

For this reason, Brooks placed Lemay on probation for one year with conditions to continue drug treatment after her release from jail.

He also banned her from Vancouver Island after hearing that she wants to relocate to Alberta upon her release, in order to get away from bad influences in Victoria and start afresh.

In sentencing Lemay, Brooks said general deterrence is the most important sentencing principle in cases where offenders threaten or retaliate against witnesses. A message must be sent that the criminal justice system will respond firmly, he said.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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