Didsbury woman sentenced for role in assault on innocent bystander

Entrance to the Calgary Courts Centre.

A Didsbury woman who was a party to an attack on an innocent bystander was handed intermittent jail time and strict probation Thursday instead of a lengthy prison sentence.

Donna Faulkner, 39, was convicted of aggravated assault earlier this year in relation to a March 2018 assault against Theodore Raukema. Crown prosecutor Britta Kristensen said the woman incited others to hurt her ex-boyfriend, John Hornby, and Raukema was attacked in a case of mistaken identity.

Raukema was walking to the store to buy a pack of cigarettes when he was jumped from behind by at least two attackers and beaten with a weapon. Faulkner didn’t directly participate in the assault, but she waited in a car while it happened and drove away from the scene afterward.

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“If I could work for Mr. Raukema for the rest of my life and make it up to him, I would,” Faulkner said in court Thursday, breaking into tears.

“I’m truly sorry. I don’t know what else to say to you.”

Defence lawyer Shamsher Kothari said the assault ultimately arose from “drug-fuelled chatter” between Faulkner and the people she had been spending time with, and she has recently been participating in counselling and maintaining her sobriety. She’s also been subject to stringent bail conditions since her release, about three months after her 2018 arrest.

Faulkner was initially among four people charged with conspiracy to commit murder in an alleged plot to kill Hornby due to a child custody dispute. They were all acquitted on that charge after Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Hall ruled a statement from a witness implicating them couldn’t be entered into evidence.

The witness, David Matschke, said he remembered little from an interview he’d had with an RCMP officer. But he agreed with Faulkner’s lawyer that he was offered a deal for talking.

Kristensen argued Faulkner should be sentenced to six years in prison, but Hall ultimately agreed with Kothari, who suggested a sentence of 90 days in jail, on top of credit for time served, that she would serve on weekends. Faulkner is currently caring for her ill mother and Hall said he considered the prospect of rehabilitation an important mitigating factor.

Faulkner was also handed 240 hours of community service and she’ll be on probation for three years, including 18 months of conditions that effectively amount to house arrest.

“I believe this act of violence is out of character for this offender,” Hall said, noting her past drug addiction played a role in what happened.

“I have, however, the greatest sympathy for Mr. Raukema . . . a crime against an innocent man must be denounced,” Hall said. “He was an innocent, uninvolved victim of this vicious attack.”

Raukema said during the trial the serious injuries he suffered have had a lasting impact, and he’s been unable to work.

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