Bouchard says she became engaged to her alleged victim

Michelle Bouchard and the man she is accused of stealing from became engaged in early 2012, she told Justice Paul Worsley on Thursday.

She was in her second day of giving evidence in her trial for charges of dishonesty that include theft from James Handford of more than $2 million between May 2010 and October 2012.

The judge asked about Bouchard’s engagement to Mr. Handford when the defendant was explaining her answers to an officer at Butterfield Bank who had requested an update of account information in August, 2012. She had said, “The person I have the joint account with is my fiancé, James Handford.”

In reply to the judge’s question, “When did you become engaged?” Bouchard said, “We became engaged in the springtime of 2012.”

Her attorney, Peter Carter, asked her to explain a check for $500,000 she had deposited to her personal account in May 2011.

Bouchard said she had asked Mr. Handford for a loan because she needed the security of having her own home, but Mr. Handford told her he was giving her the money as a gift.

One of the charges against Bouchard is that on May 27, 2011, she stole “a chose in action” – namely a debt owed by the bank to Mr. Handford – by presenting a check drawn on Mr. Handford’s private CI account, for payment to her personal account. Mr. Carter asked if Mr. Handford said whether he expected anything in return for the $500,000. “Nothing,” she replied.

He asked what their relationship was at the time. She said they were “basically a couple – we just hadn’t had sex.”

The jury has heard of concerns that Bouchard had about forming an intimate relationship with Mr. Handford, in part because of his age. In May 2011, he was 83 and she was 50.

Asked what the effect of the gift had on her feelings for Mr. Handford, she said, “I finally felt I had met a man that would be serious with me. I was very grateful.”

At the time, his health was good and his memory was good, she said.

Mr. Carter began his questioning of the defendant on Wednesday afternoon by reminding her that she was charged on an indictment containing 26 counts alleging theft and forgery. “Did you do any of those things?” Bouchard replied,

“No, I did not.”

He then asked if she had transferred money. She said, “Yes, I did.”

Mr. Carter queried, “Was any of that money the proceeds of theft?” Bouchard replied, “That is incorrect.”

She was asked to look at entries she had made in a series of journals [referred to in an earlier story as diaries].

Bouchard explained that the journal was “a creative workbook” based on a book titled

“The Artist’s Way,” which was about spirituality and creativity. The workbook contained questions and suggested exercises. She wrote “what came out of my consciousness when I first woke up.”

Asked if the writing was fact or fiction, she said it could be anything.

“Did you want it to make you look better than you were?” Mr. Carter asked.

“No,” she replied. He also asked about various transactions from the joint account Mr. Handford opened in May 2010.

Bouchard’s testimony continued into Thursday afternoon.