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No jail time for woman convicted of obstructing justice

A woman convicted of obstructing justice for attempting to cover up a crime allegedly committed by her son has been given a 15-month conditional sentence.

In B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster yesterday, Allyne Fitzgerald was told that means she is allowed to go to work and medical appointments, and can go grocery shopping, but must otherwise stay at home. She must also provide a DNA sample and work 120 hours of community service.

Her conviction relates to the hit-and-run death of Robert Staines in 2006. The Crown alleged Fitzgerald’s son, James High, drove the car that struck Staines. And during the trial, the Crown showed Fitzgerald helped hide her son’s car in her garage and paid for repairs, despite knowing it was involved in the fatality. (Charges against High were stayed.)

Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Fitzgerald to 18 months in jail, a sentence the defence said was too severe.

Defence lawyer Joe Doyle asked that his client be allowed to serve her sentence in the community, adding that the Crown concedes Fitzgerald is not a risk to re-offend. He also said Fitzgerald has suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the incident and the media attention she has received.

“She is very much in the public eye,” Doyle said. “There is no way to make friends in that situation.”

In her victim impact statement, Jocelyn Staines, mother of Robert Staines, wrote: “My heart is broken and my trust in other human beings has been shattered” and “I can’t think of a way that our life hasn’t changed and nothing for the better.”

 

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

 

 

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