Truro woman cleared for carrying baton for dangerous purpose

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TRURO – A local woman has filed an appeal of a provincial court judge’s guilty finding to her charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

Truro’s Danielle Christian MacLaren, 25, was found guilty of the charge at the end of November and acquitted of a charge of carrying a weapon – a baton – for a dangerous purpose.

Her appeal is scheduled for Feb. 12 in Supreme Court.

Judge Timothy Gabriel found MacLaren guilty of carrying a concealed weapon from an incident on April 23, 2012. The application for an appeal is on the grounds that the judge erred in law when he determined that the accused possessed the requisite mens rea for committing the offence even after finding as fact that she did not intend to conceal the weapon in her purse.

At the time, MacLaren was in the passenger seat of a car at Victoria Park at 10:20 p.m. Truro Police Service members approached the vehicle as the park was closed at that time.

Upon learning the accused’s identity, officers discovered a warrant was outstanding for her arrest. When directed to accompany officers, MacLaren accessed some items from her purse, which was on the floor at her feet.

It was suggested she bring her purse with her because she would be spending the night in cells.

When officers searched MacLaren’s purse at the station, officers found a so-called ASP baton, which is similar to standard police issue.

The accused explained to police that night that she carried the baton for personal protection against an estranged spouse, who she said had kicked in the door to her residence three times in the previous five weeks.

“The accused maintains that when she placed the baton in her purse, her purpose was not to hide it. Rather, it is simply easier to carry it that way. As she points out, this is the same reason she put her medication, money and cosmetics in there,” Judge Gabriel said while delivering his decision.

Gabriel said he had four things to consider in his decision, the first being if the baton was being “carried” by the accused. He said it unquestionably was, as it was in her purse, found initially at MacLaren’s feet.

He also considered if the baton was a “weapon” within the meaning of the two Criminal Code offences of which she was charged and concluded it was, since she purchased it specifically for protection against the ex-partner who had repeatedly behaved in a violent manner toward her.

The third thing Gabriel considered was whether the weapon was “concealed.”

The judge said the accused wasn’t without options on how she chose to carry the weapon, such as a holster to be worn at the belt.

“The clear result of her action was to conceal it from view,” Gabriel said.

While Gabriel doesn’t consider the accused’s degree of “moral turpitude” to be great, he found her guilty of carrying a concealed weapon.

The final issue he considered was whether or not the accused possessed the baton for a dangerous purpose.

“The issue with respect to this charge is whether carriage or possession of the baton for self defence constitutes ‘a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.’ I am satisfied that it does not,” he said.

“Ms. MacLaren carried the baton for self protection. There was no evidence upon which one could dispute her stated purpose.”

Organizations: Supreme Court, Truro Police Service

Geographic location: Victoria Park

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