Sandra Catron admitted using ICT network to annoy man with whom she had a relationship
A sentence ruling in the Grand Court case of Sandra Catron ended on Thursday with no conviction recorded against her for using an information and communications technology network to annoy a man with whom she had had a relationship.
Catron pleaded guilty in January. Justice Charles Quin subsequently requested a social inquiry report and victim impact statement. In his ruling, the judge said he had considered these and a reference letter that referred to the defendant’s honesty, professionalism and dedication to helping others.
After hearing further submissions from the Crown and defense, the judge said he would order that Catron be of good behavior generally and in particular to the complainant. The precise wording of the Minute of Order was not available at press time.
The matter first came to court in September 2012, when the defendant said she wanted a jury trial. At that time the charge was using an information and communications technology network to annoy or harass a named individual between May 27 and July 23, 2012.
The matter was sent to Grand Court, where she pleaded not guilty, and a trial date was set.
After the charge was amended to delete to word “harass,” Catron pleaded guilty to using an ICT network to annoy. It was then that defense attorney Nick Hoffman submitted a basis for the plea and the judge ordered pre-sentence reports.
On Thursday, Mr. Hoffman said the social inquiry report represented an independent view of the facts of the case and the defendant’s response to what she had done. The report concluded with the suggestion that the court might wish to consider not recording a conviction.
“We are dealing with an isolated incident between two adults of mature age,” Mr. Hoffman pointed out. He accepted that the victim had been affected by what happened.
According to a summary of facts, Catron and the male victim met in early April 2012, and began seeing each other. The relationship became intimate. Toward the end of May, he sought to end the relationship and she used the network to annoy him.
Mr. Hoffman agreed it was “a relationship that disintegrated rather spectacularly.” But, he argued, it would be disproportionate to relieve the defendant of a potential legal career because of it.
Crown counsel Nicole Petit said she would usually agree with social inquiry reports, but she could not ignore the victim impact statement, which detailed a sustained period of harassing attacks.
Justice Quin pointed out that the Crown had agreed to the word “harass” being deleted from the charge.
Ms. Petit said Catron’s actions had affected the victim’s job as well as his personal life because she had sought to attack him through a number of messages and communications that reached his employer.
The judge said he had read the eight-page statement from the victim. He noted that Catron had been charged with knowingly using an ICT network to annoy; she had admitted it, pleaded guilty and expressed remorse.
Ms. Petit argued that this was not a case of a simple momentary loss of control – it was a sustained attack. The Crown was seeking compensation, she said, because the matter had cost the victim in real financial terms as well as time. He still had not succeeded in removing all of the derogatory and humiliating posts about him.
The Crown was also seeking some sort of order not to use any ICT network to mention the complainant’s name. Justice Quin noted the five actions listed as offenses in a particular section of the ICT law – defraud, threaten, abuse, annoy or harass. In his view, annoy was the least serious.
He referred to the summary of facts of the way the relationship developed. He said the defendant thought there was much more to the relationship, while the complainant thought it was casual.
The judge said the defendant was a woman scorned who overreacted. There was no question she was wrong and the victim was troubled by her actions. “I do not take lightly the embarrassment and irritation that he has felt,” he remarked.
He pointed out that the social inquiry report included an assessment as to risk of reoffending and with all the factors measured, the risk was very low. The distinct lack of criminogenic factors suggested a probation order was not necessary.
To record a conviction would bring a final and sudden end to her career; he did not think her behavior warranted that punishment, the judge said. She had been humiliated, he added.
The judge said he would order that she be of good behavior generally and in particular to the complainant, but he declined to record a conviction.
Citing the section of the Criminal Procedure Code that gives such power, he also found that it was not expedient to inflict any further punishment and, accordingly, he cautioned the defendant to “make sure it never happens again.”