Osoyoos, B.C., intruder has prison sentence reduced, banishment clause overturned

Click to play video: 'Osoyoos woman who attempted to barge into home with large knife wins sentence appeal'
Osoyoos woman who attempted to barge into home with large knife wins sentence appeal
Sharon Forner, an Osoyoos woman who pleaded guilty to barging into a home while armed, has had her sentence reduced and one specific condition released on appeal. – Apr 8, 2020

A B.C. woman who pled guilty to a bizarre, but foiled, home-intrusion incident had her sentenced reduced this week, along with a banishment clause preventing her from being within 50 kilometres of Osoyoos.

On Tuesday, the B.C. Court of Appeal published its decision after Sharon Forner appealed the custodial portion of her 40-month sentence and the banishment term in her probation order.

On Aug. 18, 2018, Forner, wearing a wig and kitchen gloves, and armed with a butcher knife, tried entering an Osoyoos home.

Her attempts were rebuffed by the homeowner, and video of the strange incident went viral.

According to the appeal decision, Forner was visibly intoxicated when she knocked on the front door of the home of the victim, who was caring for her four-year-old daughter and newborn baby.

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“The appellant asked to see the baby,” said the appeal decision. “[The victim] shut the door on her. The appellant then re-opened the door and entered the home, wielding a large butcher knife over her head.  She did not get very far.
“Showing considerable fortitude, [the victim] grabbed the appellant, pushed her out the door, and called 911.  The police tracked the appellant down quite quickly.”

In April 2019, Forner pled guilty, with a sentence of 731 days — or two years plus a day — and three years of probation being handed down on Aug. 16.

Her probation orders included being banished from Osoyoos, except with written permission from a probation officer.

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Click to play video: 'Osoyoos woman says intruder with knife tried to take her newborn'
Osoyoos woman says intruder with knife tried to take her newborn

But on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal overturned the banishment clause, along with reducing the sentence from 731 days to 20 months, less time served.

The decision by the three-justice panel mentioned pre-sentence psychological and psychiatric reports, items that came into play during this week’s decision.

“The question here is whether, in the highly unusual circumstances of this case, the judge erred in principle by considering the appellant’s mental health to be an aggravating factor as well as a mitigating factor, and by focusing on her consumption of alcohol as a significant aggravating factor,” wrote Justice Christopher Grauer.

“In my view, he did so err.”

Click to play video: 'Woman charged in Osoyoos home invasion granted bail'
Woman charged in Osoyoos home invasion granted bail

Grauer later continued, stating, “the sentencing judge commented on the need to prove the nature and effects of mental illness, rather than merely allege them.  But he went on to accept that there was a mental health issue at play, though he could not say specifically what the issue was.

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“In this, he seemed to expect (given the bizarreness of the incident) a diagnosis different from what was before him: a history of depression and associated alcohol abuse and dependency.

“But as the sentencing judge observed at para 16, ‘People just do not do what Ms. Forner did because they are drunk.’ Nevertheless, in paras 18–19, where he considered the negative effects of alcohol on the appellant’s actions and behaviours, the judge took no account at all of the role of Ms. Forner’s mental health.”

Grauer said “I am also satisfied that this error in principle had an impact on the sentence imposed.”

Grauer ended the decision saying, “The result was a disproportionate sentence that failed to take proper account of the impact of the appellant’s addiction and mental health issues on her moral culpability, as well as the absence of any history of violent acts.”

He also said, “I would reduce the sentence to 20 months’ imprisonment, less time served.  I would also remove from the probation order the term preventing the appellant from being within 50 km of Osoyoos, B.C.

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“I would not otherwise interfere with the terms of probation.”

To read the decision, click here.

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