Welfare fraud sentence in three weeks

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A Cornwall judge has reserved his decision for nearly three weeks in the case of a woman who defrauded the welfare system of over $10,000.

Carrie Anderson, 25, had pleaded guilty in September 2015 to fraud, uttering forged documents, assault, theft and failing to comply with a court order to notify authorities of a change of address.

During today’s sentencing submissions, Anderson pleaded guilty to an additional charge of breaching a curfew.

The Crown is seeking six months of jail with two years probation while defence is asking for a 9-12 month conditional sentence (house arrest) and 12-15 months probation.

Defence lawyer Bill Wade said the sentence has to speak to a specific deterrence with Carrie and that the conditional sentence could achieve that without having her go to jail.

Wade outlined Anderson’s family history and “troubled upbringing that has left Carrie incredibly scarred,” including abuse as a child and a long-time drug addition to Fentanyl. She also suffers from PTSD and getting treatment for that, Wade said.

“Currently (she’s) not at a stage where she is able to fully address it (the abuse) however she does recognize that at some point she’s going to have to delve into the root of the problems of PTSD,” he said.

As her lawyer was speaking, Anderson – wearing a Bench hoodie, capris and flip-flops – starting crying. When asked by Judge Renaud if she would like to say anything in her defence, Anderson shrugged her shoulders and said “no” while weeping.

The Crown is seeking “significant custody, at least significant for someone who realistically has never been in custody before.”

Assistant Crown Attorney Jacqueline Masse is concerned about the number of offences Anderson “accrued in such a short time,” and some findings in the pre-sentence report, suggesting Anderson doesn’t want to take responsibility for her actions and a lack of remorse.

“The only way to address it is through custody. Mr. Wade has spoken about the deterrent effect of a conditional sentence order. She has been subject to one before and successfully completed it but it obviously hasn’t deterred her in the least,” Masse said.

In addition, the Crown is seeking restitution to Ontario Works for $10,723.48, substance abuse counselling, a DNA order and a no-contact order for the victim in the assault.

Judge Gilles Renaud said he had to review “a great deal of case law” on how to organize the sentence as well as whether a conditional sentence is available as an option for a crime committed in 2012.

The sentence will be delivered June 17, 2016.

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