Barring any unforeseen developments, the majority of women facing charges in connection with an extensive dog-theft investigation could soon be putting the ordeal behind them.
Craig Sicotte, a lawyer representing three of the women, said Wednesday that it’s likely that charges against all but one – South Surrey resident Janet Olson – will be dropped in the near future, providing they successfully complete “alternate measures” ordered by the court.
“Charges will be dropped against everybody but Jan, I expect,” Sicotte said, following a brief appearance in Surrey Provincial Court.
Charges against Olson – who is a founder of A Better Life Dog Rescue – were first announced last November, after she and Surrey resident Louise Reid were arrested in connection with the theft of a bulldog from a Coquitlam backyard.
As the investigation progressed, new charges related to other incidents across the Lower Mainland were added and additional women – Christine Carter, Diane Young Hale, Michaela Schnittker and Natalia Borojevic – were arrested.
Reid, a driver with Coast Mountain Bus Company, pleaded guilty to stealing two dogs and was sentenced Sept. 7. She was handed a conditional discharge, a year’s probation and an order to pay $2,500 restitution to the owner of one of the dogs.
The five remaining women were scheduled to appear in court Wednesday; only Borojevic did not attend.
Prosecutor Michelle Wray told Peace Arch News in September that Borojevic and Schnittker had been diverted to an alternate-measures program. The court heard Wednesday that they have now both completed their program, and that similar referrals have been made for both Young Hale and Carter.
“It’s just a question of waiting for that completion and documentation to arrive,” Wray told the presiding judge.
Schnittker and Borojevic are due back in court Nov. 7; Carter, who arrived in court with an oxygen tank and a motorized scooter, is to return Nov. 14. Sicotte asked that Young Hale be allowed to return on Dec. 5, to give her time to complete “whatever probation orders.”
He said outside court that all of the women who were referred to alternate measures would have had to admit to some degree of involvement in the offences they were accused of; their individual penance will depend on what that degree was.
Sicotte said typically, alternate measures include an apology, and may include such things as an order to pay restitution or complete community-service hours.
Olson was in court regarding an allegation that she breached conditions of her release. Sicotte asked for that matter to be put over to April 10, 2013, the same date set for a trial confirmation. Olson faces 30-plus other charges in connection with the investigation.