While branding Donovan Carter’s behavior “perhaps untimely, ill-advised, and inappropriate,” a judge has rejected a peace bond application to keep the former Nelson man away from MLA Michelle Mungall.
Judge Ron Webb said in his view there is nothing to “give rise to a reasonably-based fear” that Carter poses a threat to Mungall.
“All the matters that occurred perhaps ought not to have,” he said in his brief ruling following Carter’s testimony. “[But] I accept Mr. Carter’s evidence that he has no intent to cause any harm to Ms. Mungall and never has.”
Carter left a series of voicemails at Mungall’s constituency office and held up a sign in front of her at a forum in February 2011 that read: “Michelle, less boob tube, more Crown land.”
After Mungall complained to police, Carter was arrested and released on conditions to stay away from her, pending the peace bond application. Court heard he complied with his conditions and has since moved to Vancouver Island.
In his testimony, Carter agreed he could be characterized as a “political nuisance,” but denied he posed a physical threat.
“If I was any threat at all, I was a political threat,” he said. “I can see how some people would feel I was a nuisance. I’ll accept that.”
He told the court he was annoyed with the MLA’s response to the idea of freeing up Crown land for social housing, accusing her of “sidestepping” the issue.
The voicemails he left, described by constituency assistants as loud and angry, expressed “a little sarcasm and contempt,” he said, while the sign at the meeting was an attempt at “innocuous humor.”
In one message played in court, he accused her of “flaunting your perky cleavage.”
Carter said it was in reference to a campaign video Mungall appeared in, wearing what he called “tight-fitting, low-cut clothing” that made her a “poor role model for women in politics.”
He testified he was trying to put pressure on her and “expose her political opportunism” but did not expect she would be afraid of him.
Carter said he left voicemails rather than confront people directly because “if they don’t like the message, they can hit delete.”
“I never meant any harm. I don’t believe I committed any harm,” he added.
Carter told the judge while he may return to Nelson in a year or two, he doesn’t intend to leave any more messages for Mungall.
Under cross-examination, Carter was asked to explain other statements in the voicemails, such as “You don’t negotiate with narcissistic politicians, you can only bloody them,” which he insisted was a reference to politics as bloodsport.
In closing submissions, Crown prosecutor Sunday Patola said the court could be satisfied Mungall had a legitimate fear of Carter, borne out by other witnesses.
“Mr. Carter has had a lot of issues with Ms. Mungall, but took it to a personal level rather than a professional and political level,” she said.
“He seems well able to eloquently put points across in support of his views, yet instead of doing that in the voicemails or by letter, he left these disturbing, sexually oriented, angry messages.”
Patola said the sign incident was the tipping point at which Mungall became concerned for her safety.
But defence lawyer Blair Suffredine — the former Nelson-Creston Liberal MLA — called Mungall a “drama queen” who went to police without first discussing the matter with Carter.
The judge, while finding Carter may have been guilty of “poor humour, poor choices, and stupid behaviour,” concluded it did not warrant “quasi-criminal” sanctions.
The case first reached court last summer, and has been adjourned several times.