The Donovan Carter hearing adjourned Wednesday amid discussions between lawyers and the judge over whether a peace bond is really necessary to keep Carter away from Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall.
After the court heard additional testimony from two Crown witnesses, Carter’s lawyer Blair Suffredine suggested there is not enough evidence to show Carter poses a threat or that a reasonable person would fear him.
The Crown is seeking a peace bond against Carter, a former Nelson resident, who is free on conditions to keep his distance from Mungall.
Suffredine said all that had been demonstrated by the Crown was that certain statements Carter made in a series of voicemails were misinterpreted.
Provincial Court Judge Ron Webb, however, said he wasn’t prepared to rule there was no evidence of a reasonable fear, given voicemails that contained sexual innuendo, including references to cleavage.
Carter is expected to testify in his own defence, but that won’t happen for some time. A continuance date will be fixed on December 6.
In the interim, the judge asked if Carter’s present conditions actually posed any hardship given that he has moved to Vancouver Island, and whether there was a public interest in proceeding with the peace bond application.
He also suggested Carter’s return to Nelson to continue the case actually makes him more likely to encounter Mungall.
Suffredine noted Carter’s doctor and Mungall have their offices in the same building in Nelson, although this is addressed in an exception to his bail conditions.
Crown prosecutor Sunday Patola said Mungall’s fear of Carter is “real and continuing,” and that she takes comfort from the bail conditions. Without them, Patola said, Mungall isn’t confident Carter will respect boundaries between them.
However, she added she would discuss the matter with Mungall.
The maximum term for a peace bond is one year. Court heard there have been no incidents between Mungall and Carter since a trade forum in February where he held up a sign in front of her that read “Michelle, less boob tube, more Crown land.”
The judge noted if further incidents did arise, the Crown could make another peace bond application or lay charges.
Suffredine has argued that while Carter is under conditions, he is unable to demonstrate he poses no threat to Mungall and that the peace bond is unnecessary.
Earlier in the afternoon, MP Alex Atamanenko’s constituency assistant Laurel Walton testified about receiving anonymous voicemails in January concerning Mungall, which she erased, but believed were from Carter. Walton says she told Mungall about them the night of the trade forum.
Further messages were left at their office, Walton said, in which Carter identified himself, encouraged Atamanenko to distance himself from Mungall, and made a reference to “boobs.”
She described them as “hit-and-run” messages with a “really negative tone.”
Walton said she contacted Mungall’s office and the RCMP about them.
Under cross-examination, Walton said it was not unusual to receive angry voice mails, but they weren’t normally about another politician.
Walton also told the judge she has never otherwise called police about the contents of a voicemail in the 5½ years she has worked for Atamanenko.
David Reid of the West Kootenay Ecosociety testified that he too received a series of voicemails from someone leading up to the trade forum, but didn’t listen to them all.
He said the gist of their contents was that Mungall wasn’t a good MLA, “revealed her cleavage too much and acted like a cheerleader.”
“My impression was of someone with an axe to grind,” Reid said. He didn’t save the messages, but said he told Mungall about them during the forum.
The judge apologized to Carter that the matter couldn’t be completed this week, calling it an “unfortunate” consequence of a backlogged court system.
The case began Monday with testimony from Mungall, who said she remains afraid of Carter. A series of voicemails he left for her were played for the court, in which he called her a “brain-dead politician” who said “dumbass things” and accused her of “flaunting your perky cleavage.”