Woman gave sister’s name to get out of traffic tickets
November 17, 2021
Judge R.B. Marceau
Trudy Lynn Merrier (aka. Badger), from Gift Lake, was not in the court room. Her lawyer entered guilty pleas on her behalf. One was to a criminal offence of identity fraud with the intent to avoid arrest or prosecution. The other two were traffic tickets for driving without insurance.
On July 2, 2020, a Slave Lake RCMP officer pulled over a vehicle in the parking lot of a southwest apartment building, said the Crown. Merrier was driving, but she gave the officer her sister’s name, and provided no identification.
The license plate on the vehicle wasn’t registered to any vehicle. The vehicle was uninsured, and there were other violations.
The officer sent the tickets to the sister.
On July 14, 2020, the sister contacted the RCMP to report that Merrier had given her name to police, which resulted in the tickets.
The RCMP matched Merrier’s photo with the woman driving on July 2. The tickets were changed and Merrier was charged with identity fraud.
On May 2, 2021, Merrier tried a similar tactic, the court heard. She was pulled over in Slave Lake. She gave a false name again without identification. The officer was suspicious, so asked the passenger. The passenger gave a different name. The officer identified Merrier. She did not have a driver’s license, the vehicle was uninsured, and there were other traffic violations. She was charged with criminal offences regarding the false name. She was also wanted on outstanding warrants.
As part of the plea deal, the Crown withdrew all but the one criminal charge and most of the tickets.
The Crown and defence recommended a $200 fine for identity fraud and the mandatory minimum for both counts of driving without insurance. The offer was part of a larger global resolution which included charges out of High Prairie.
Merrier’s only previous criminal conviction was from 2012.
“It’s just outrageous behaviour,” said Judge Marceau. “Nothing she was doing was legal.”
There are many aggravating factors and the statutory minimum for both seems a bit low, he added.
However, Judge Marceau did impose the recommendation, with one caveat – that the default time in jail if the fines weren’t paid would be higher than normal.
Merrier was fined $200, plus a $60 victim fine surcharge for identity fraud, and $3,000 each for driving without insurance. For the first no-insurance ticket, there are 60 default days. There are 90 for the second.
Merrier received time to pay the identity fraud fine and the first no-insurance until July 4, 2022. For the second, she has until December 1, 2022.
Leanna Blair Cardinal (34), from Edmonton, appeared via WebEx from her defence lawyer’s office. She pleaded guilty to failure to appear and being at large in Canada. The Crown prosecutor withdrew other charges.
On July 18, 2018 Cardinal was sentenced to serve weekends in the RCMP detachment, said the Crown. She showed up for her first weekend, but not for the next one. She was charged with being at large in Canada.
On September 26, 2018, Cardinal was to be in court to answer for being at large but didn’t show up at court.
Cardinal’s criminal record is very short. It started in 2010 and the last conviction was from 2018, which resulted in the intermittent sentence.
Judge Marceau confirmed that at some point Cardinal had served the remainder of her intermittent sentence.
The Crown and defence provided a joint submission for a $300 fine for being at large and $250 fine for failure to appear.
Judge Marceau said, “$300 is the lowest this court has ever seen” for being at large. This was both in his position as a judge and earlier as a lawyer. Generally, being at large results in a jail sentence.
However, the judge imposed the suggested sentence, with two days default time consecutive for both of the fines.
Cardinal received time to pay until August 31, 2022.
The defence requested this long payment period, because Cardinal was unemployed and had recently been fined for other crimes in another court in the area. The defence also mentioned Gladue factors which impacted Cardinal, but a formal Gladue report was not requested.
Tyler Lawrence Beaver pleaded guilty to assault.
On August 5, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. the Slave Lake RCMP received a report of a domestic assault in Slave Lake, said the Crown. Beaver and the victim were in an intimate partner relationship. Beaver pulled the victim out of bed while she was sleeping. He then threw her on the floor several times. The victim didn’t know why he did it. He had been drinking.
Beaver had a criminal record, but this was the first violent conviction.
The court takes intimate partner violence very seriously, said the judge. The mandatory starting point for sentencing in such cases is a jail sentence.
The Crown and defence recommended a suspended sentence of 12 months.
The mitigating factors were a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity and that there were no injuries, said Judge Marceau. The involvement of alcohol was not mitigating, but suggested that the crime was spontaneous, not planned.
Beaver received a suspended sentence and 12 months of probation. The most important requirement is to have no contact directly or indirectly with the victim, except through one specified third-party for the purpose of parenting. The others included keeping the peace, reporting to probation, and counselling as directed. There’s also a no-weapons clause.
(The Canadian government’s justice website explains suspended sentences thus: “The Court may choose to put off or suspend imposing a sentence and release the offender on probation for a specified length of time … A person on probation remains out of custody but is supervised by a probation officer and must follow any conditions included in the probation order.”)
Daniel Mathew Bills pleaded guilty to a logbook violation.
On June 9, 2021, a sheriff was on patrol in Slave Lake, said the federal Crown. The officer saw a semi-truck and trailer drive past the scale, even though the lights were flashing. She pulled the driver over at the fuel station.
The driver said he intended to fuel up first, then go back to the scale. The sheriff escorted the truck back to the scale and did an inspection. There were various logbook violations, but Bills was only charged with not using Cycle 1 or 2, which has to do with tracking on-duty and off-duty hours.
Bills was fined $1,500. The maximum is $5,000. He received time to pay until June 30, 2022.
Cheyenne Elliot Alook (24), from Slave Lake, pleaded guilty to a traffic ticket for driving while unauthorized. The offence happened in the Slave Lake area on September 10, 2021. He was fined $330.