A woman’s appeal of her 15-month jail sentence for assaulting her 86-year-old mother suffering from dementia was tossed out by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.
According to the ruling, posted online Wednesday, Monique Van Donselaar was charged with assault and uttering threats, to which she pleaded guilty and was sentenced on May 9. A three-year probation sentence was tacked on to her custodial sentence.
On March 11, Donselaar pushed her mother during a heated argument, stating she was provoked. Photographs show severe bruising on her mother’s face, especially both eyes and the right jaw area, along with bruises on the left upper and lower arm, the right chest and the left knee with a large laceration on the knee as well.
In a victim impact statement written by the mother, she states her daughter was disowned and that she is fearful each night living alone. Property damage in the apartment was estimated by the mother to be $1,000.
At the time of sentencing, Donselaar told the courts she was visiting Victoria from Edmonton, where she lives, and was not aware of the degree of her mother’s dementia, adding that “[her mother] was like very, very, very hostile,” towards her. Donselaar also stated she has “no problem having no contact” with her mother and she was really sorry.
Donselaar asked the sentencing judge to go easy on her, saying “maybe I can have, like, even an anklet,” and that she wanted to be home for her daughter’s graduation on May 29.
The sentencing judge stated this was an extreme case of elder abuse, calling into question why the accused didn’t go for help at the time of the offence and the amount of blame placed on the victim by Donselaar.
“This is a considerable level of violence against an 86-year-old woman,” stated the sentencing judge, adding it was troubling that Donselaar wanted to use her daughter’s graduation “as some sort of ‘get out of jail free’ card,” rather than taking responsibility for her conduct.
The Court of Appeals judge noted the courts should only intervene when a sentence imposed at trial is demonstrably unfit or clearly unreasonable. Donselaar believed the sentencing judge erred when he concluded the injuries to her mother were caused by something more than a push and that it was a vicious attack.
The judge found a 15-month sentence was not demonstrably unfit and the appeal was dismissed.
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