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'Home free' defence attempt fails for Tatamagouche woman

Justice
Justice

TRURO, N.S. – An attempt by a Tatamagouche woman to use a “home free” defence to beat a charge of refusing the breathalyzer was rejected by a provincial court judge on Monday.

As a result, Charlotte Leanne Mingo, 49, of Tattrie Settlement Road, was found guilty of the charge, which was laid in relation to an incident that occurred Jan. 21, 2017.

Judge Al Bégin, in citing various examples of past case law, rejected an attempt by her defence lawyer to have the refusal charge dismissed under a Charter argument pertaining to unreasonable search and seizure.

“For all of these reasons, along with the repeated, and recorded comments of Ms. Mingo that she let the police into her house, the testimony of Cost. (Fraser) Firth and the governing Nova Scotia case law just cited, there was no s.8 Charter breach of Ms. Mingo’s rights,” Bégin said, while delivering his decision on her previous trial.

Around midnight on the night in question, Firth was notified of a “highly intoxicated” woman at Ocean Lanes Bowling Alley in Tatamagouche, who had consumed a beer while impatiently waiting for a pizza order.

Mingo and two men with her were asked to leave the premises because of her behaviour.

When Firth arrived at the site he was told that the two men refused to get in the car with Mingo and that she had driven away, then turned around and drove back past the bowling alley at a high rate of speed.

Firth was told that Mingo lived on Tattrie Settlement Road and after approximately 10 or 15 minutes of searching, he discovered a vehicle in a driveway matching the description he had been provided with.

Firth noted that the car also had the same license plate number that he had been provided with at the bowling alley and when he placed his hand on the car’s hood it was still warm to the touch.

Firth testified during the trial that after knocking on the door, he watched Mingo, who had been sitting on a couch, “struggle towards the door.”

Firth also testified that the woman and her clothing both fit the description of the person who had left the bowling alley.

“Const. Firth, due to Ms. Mingo’s gross intoxication, slurred speech, staggering, having to hold onto the door for balance and smelling of alcohol, was of the opinion and belief that Ms. Mingo was impaired in her ability to operate a motor vehicle due to the consumption of alcohol,” Bégin said.

Upon advising her that she was under arrest, Mingo became belligerent and resisted his attempts to place her into custody.

After struggling with Mingo while attempting to place her in handcuffs, Firth eventually gave up “as he would have had to strike her to get the second cuff on her,” Bégin read from his written decision. He then removed the first cuff and radioed in for backup from a second officer.

But even with the assistance of the second officer, it took “several minutes” to arrest and restrain Mingo, the judge said, because of her continued resistance.

“The police officers don’t need to put up with that type of behaviour when they are trying to do their job,” Bégin said, adding that they had initially “bent over backwards to be gentle with her.

“I do think you may have some anger management issues that need to be addressed.”

Mingo was fined $1,300 and had her driving privileges revoked for one year on the refusal charge. She was also given a suspended sentence and placed on probation for 12 months on a charge of assault by resisting arrest.

Her probation conditions include assessment/counselling for alcohol consumption and anger management and she is prohibited from entering any establishment where alcohol is sold as primary source of business.

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