PSW trial on hold; arrest warrant for accuser

Woodland Villa on Mille Roches Road in Long Sault. A former employee at the facility will go to trial in April 2016 on a charge of assault after police were called in April to investigate a case involving a resident at the long term care home. (Photo/Google Maps)

CORNWALL – A trial for a former personal support worker at a Long Sault long term care home is on hold after her accuser refused to show up in court.

Lana Gautreau, 54, is facing an assault charge after a resident at the Woodland Villa Nursing Home said she was assaulted in April 2015.

Gautreau was in court Monday (April 11) with eight supporters and family sitting with her in the gallery.

But Assistant Crown Attorney Jacqueline Masse sought a material witness warrant because the complainant, described as a woman in her 80s, refused to show up.

“It was not my preference to have to do this but unfortunately this is the reality,” Masse said. “I can indicate she’s well aware of the trial date, arrangements were made to bring her here (to court). She lives in a nursing home and arrangements were made with the nursing home and yet she has refused. She cannot be forced into the vehicle against her will,” she said.

Masse described the woman as a material witness and “the complainant.”

The Crown attorney also indicated that the trial will involve a videotaped statement from the complainant but the elderly woman has to be in court as “a natural step” in the judicial process.

“With Ms. Masse’s position, I understand where she’s coming from and I can sympathize with what she has to pursue before the court,” defence lawyer Don Johnson responded.

After viewing the video himself prior to today’s proceedings, Johnson told court he believed there was going to be problems with having the woman testifying let alone cooperating with the court.

Johnson pointed out that his client was in court today with two witnesses to support her position.

With court dealing with another trial for a person already in jail, Johnson said that should take precedence but wanted the court to acknowledge that his clients and witnesses were ready to testify.

“So I issue a warrant, someone’s going to go to the nursing home, place your complainant under arrest. Bring (her) to the cell block to be released from custody here at the courthouse?,” Judge Franco Giamberardino said rhetorically to Assistant Crown Attorney Masse.

“If that’s the way it has to go,” Giamberardino said in granting the Crown’s request, saying he had no alternative.

The matter will be heard again on May 17, 2016.