Accused arsonist intends to plea: lawyer

The Cornwall courthouse at 29 Second Street West. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The lawyer for a Cornwall woman, accused to trying to burn a car on St. Felix Street in March which caught a carport and part of a house on fire, says his client intends to enter a plea.

Erica Brazeau, 26, is charged with two counts of arson, possession of incendiary material and breach of a court order. She’s also facing charges of assault and forcible confinement in a separate case.

Robert Taillefer told Judge Gilles Renaud on Monday (Aug. 12) there is an “intention to plea…the intention of my client is to resolve (the matter).”

Taillefer said he was working with Shannon Nicholas, a Gladue aftercare caseworker with the Akwesasne Justice Department, to get his client alcohol treatment. For that reason, Taillefer asked for a two week adjournment.

Crown attorney Michael Purcell said his office was prepared for a plea and was going to release victim impact statements to the defence in anticipation of a guilty plea, but held back due to concerns in the mental health assessment report.

Based on that psychiatric assessment, Purcell said Taillefer and his client still had some “issues that need to be ironed out.” There were also Gladue factors that “came to light” in the mental health assessment. That means the court needs to consider an accused’s Aboriginal background and options for restorative justice instead of jail.

While Taillefer floated out the idea of ordering a Gladue report, Judge Renaud suggested getting a report could take months for Brazeau, who has been in custody since June. Whether a report will be ordered will be addressed in two weeks.

Judge Renaud also granted the Crown a publication ban on the identify of the alleged victim of an assault and forcible confinement due to their age (younger than 18) and the “very sensitive nature” of the allegations.

In granting the order, Renaud said there was a “very compelling” reason to believe that “some secondary harm” would come to the person who “apparently has been victimized.”

The case will be heard again on Aug. 26.

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