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Athabasca woman hoping for fresh start after petty crime spree

Janelle Belcourt ‘promises to be good forever’ to avoid returning to court
20191009-Athabasca Provincial Court-BT-01
Athabasca Provincial Court. File

ATHABASCA – A local woman who, among other things, barricaded a road with personal possessions and threw a rock at a neighbour who tried to remove it, is hoping a specific release condition will continue to help her get her life back on track.

Janelle Belcourt, 41, pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon, common nuisance, mischief under $5,000, and obstructing a peace officer in Athabasca Court of Justice on Feb. 6 as part of a joint submission between Crown prosecutor Matthew Kerr and defence counsel Christopher Chelala. As part of the plea, multiple additional charges were withdrawn.

Justice Joanne Heudes accepted the joint submission, which left Belcourt with a 39-day custody sentence and 18 months of probation. Belcourt will be in a time-served situation after spending 26 days in custody before the court date. Pre-trial custody is counted at a one-and-a-half to one rate when determining a sentence.

“It’s a good joint submission, I think it’s appropriate and it addresses the issues that you had in order to help you and to help the community past this in a sense,” said Heudes. “I’ve seen you in the courtroom before and you do look much better and present very well.”

Chelala said Belcourt had been sober for a year and had been able to stay out of trouble since her mid-December custodial release.

Belcourt, who didn’t officially address the court before sentencing but did chime in throughout other’s comments, said she has been going above and beyond to make sure she didn’t breach her probation conditions, and added that she is looking forward to her second chance.

“I promise I’ll be forever so I don’t have to come back,” said Belcourt at the end of sentencing.

The facts

Kerr told court that from Sept. 16 to Sept. 19, 2023, the Athabasca RCMP detachment received multiple calls about Belcourt causing disturbances within the town, ranging from harassing people over the phone, to chasing students at Edwin Parr Composite School. Belcourt was arrested for harassing communication and held for a bail hearing.

While in custody, Belcourt dialed 911 from the phone she was supposed to using to contact a lawyer. Belcourt proceeded to smash the phone and was re-arrested.

On Nov. 25, 2023, the RCMP received multiple phone calls about Belcourt, saying she had been screaming and yelling profanities at members of the public. Kerr said Belcourt had set up a roadblock from loose lumber, large rocks and “other debris,” on a public road since she didn’t want people driving on her street.

Kerr said when a neighbour came out to dismantle the roadblock, Belcourt became aggressive, running at the man. After saying she would bash his skull in, Kerr said Belcourt picked up a large boulder and threw it at the man but missed.

RCMP arrived at Belcourt’s residence shortly after. When first told she was under arrest, Belcourt refused to comply, before asking if she could lock her door before leaving. When she was told she could, Belcourt ran inside her house, locking the RCMP out. She eventually unlocked the door herself and was placed under arrest.

Cole Brennan

About the Author: Cole Brennan

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