Jail for woman who broke house arrest within days of sentence
Grace Maria Angel will spend a week in jail after ignoring house arrest, a sentence she had received just days earlier, to visit her boyfriend in Edmonton.
Angel, 49, was sentenced on June 16 to a 12-month conditional sentence order – or CSO – after pleading guilty to two counts of breach of trust by a public officer.
In a period spanning 2009 to 2018, while working for Wekweètì’s community government and the NWT Housing Corporation in Whatì, she defrauded a total of $13,180 from both employers.
One of the main conditions of her house arrest sentence was to remain within the Northwest Territories unless she received written permission from her CSO supervisor.
On June 20, she left a message for her supervisor at 3:20pm. Even though she didn’t hear back from him, Angel was on a flight to Edmonton at 5:25pm.
“It’s been a very sad experience for her,” said defence lawyer Roopa Mulherkar. “She is no longer working at the mines – she is looking for work – and the impact of having just lost her job was overwhelming.”
Angel was hoping to keep her job as a cook, the sentencing judge heard on June 16. However, her employer was not aware of her legal matters as she was “too scared to tell them.”
Her breach of house arrest was “quite blatant,” NWT Territorial Court Deputy Judge Alan Tufts said on Wednesday.
“It wasn’t a technical breach and it is open to argument that you may have known that,” Tufts told Angel, who appeared by video from the North Slave Correctional Complex.
“It’s clear you didn’t fully appreciate the seriousness of being on a conditional sentence order. It’s just like being in an institution. Letting yourself out and going to Edmonton? Well, you weren’t escaping custody, but you were breaching the order.
“It brings into question the seriousness … the integrity … of the whole CSO regime.”
The judge asked an NWT justice official in the public gallery if Angel would have likely received permission to leave the jurisdiction for a social visit. The answer was no.
Tufts wasn’t pleased with the joint recommendation presented to him by Mulherkar and Crown prosecutor Matthew Scott, which called for the CSO to be revoked for one week, sending Angel to jail for that time. The judge deemed it too lenient.
“If I was left to my own designs, it would be more than seven days,” he said. “I would be inclined to give you 30 to 45 days in custody. But these jointly negotiated sentences [generally need to be] respected by the courts, as they encourage resolution of cases.”
The first six months of Angel’s sentence involve strict house arrest with limited exceptions. The remaining six months have conditions including a 10pm curfew and reporting to a probation officer.
Correction: June 30, 2022 – 9:37 MT. The flight to Edmonton reported in this article took place on June 20, not June 24 as initially stated.