Threats to ex & justice workers
Richard Froese and Chris Clegg
For the Lakeside Leader
No means no!
A Slave Lake man learned that lesson the hard way after being sent to prison for one year after appearing for sentencing on a charge of criminal harassment in High Prairie Provincial Court Nov. 23.
Court heard Amos Edwin McKechnie, 36, and the victim were in a relationship when the woman called it quits. McKechnie did not take no for an answer and repeatedly harassed the woman, court heard, through phone calls and visits. It eventually led to McKechnie writing her a letter, which was the final straw.
Crown prosecutor Terrence Hudson argued for a sentence of two years less a day. He described the female as a “vulnerable victim” and that women were “frequently the subject of violence”.
A victim impact statement was presented to all parties in court. In it, the victim stated, since 2015, that McKechnie had threatened her life and her daughter’s.
“It’s taken me a lot just to leave my home,” she wrote.
She also has prescription pills to deal with anxiety, and had to change her phone number to avoid contact with McKechnie.
Defence attorney Shawn King did not oppose the presentation of the victim impact statement but asked for a sentence of six months.
In her decision, Judge Andrea Chrenek opted for a middle ground. She noted it was obvious the woman incurred “a great deal of fear” and that “she really needs to be afraid of him” and suffered from “psychological harm”.
She added a decision must reflect respect for the law, and impress denunciation and deterrence on society.
In citing case law, Judge Chrenek noted the victim was entitled to “break off a relationship without fear of criminal harassment and live her life without fear.”
“Criminal harassment is a serious offence,” she said.
“Harassment is not tolerated by society. The harm to [the victim] is substantial.”
Judge Chrenek also considered McKechnie’s criminal record, which included harassment and breach of conditions convictions in the last three years.
McKechnie’s sentence is concurrent to ones he is already serving.
Judge Chrenek also placed McKechnie on probation for one year after his release on strict conditions.
McKechnie is a serving prisoner at the Bowden Institution.
Part of a pattern
This was McKechnie’s second sentence in the last while for related offences.
McKechnie had a three-day jury trial, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 in Peace River Court of Queen’s Bench. Justice Paul Jeffrey presided. Afterwards, McKechnie pleaded guilty to one count of uttering threats causing death or bodily harm and one count of intimidation.
McKechnie was sentenced Nov. 18 in Peace River. He received six months concurrent to each charge, but consecutive to the time he is currently serving.
On August 21, 2018, McKechnie was in High Prairie provincial court for a bail hearing, the court records shows. He appeared from Alberta Hospital on CCTV. After the hearing, McKechnie was charged with uttering threats against seven police officers, a court sheriff, two provincial court judges, a Court of Queen’s Bench justice and two lawyers. Officers were members of the High Prairie RCMP and Lakeshore Regional Police Service.
The intimidation charge related to intending to provoke a state of fear in justice system participants to impede them in their duty.