Guilty as charged

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NEW GLASGOW – Calling the entire situation an “unedifying slice of life” that painted “a very troubling picture,” Nova Scotia’s chief justice has found a Trenton woman guilty of break and enter and two assaults that occurred in the Egerton area on Jan. 7.

Melissa Dawn Chisholm, 18, was the first of five people accused in the case to go to trial. Although the Crown failed to prove a charge of aggravated assault against homeowner Tyler Koszculics, she was found guilty of the lesser charge of assault. She was also found guilty of assaulting Koszculics’ girlfriend, Brittany Webb, who also lived at the trailer.

The main thrust of the defence attempted to suggest that Chisholm and a female co-accused happened to show up at 60 Bell’s Lane looking for a party, as three males they knew were assaulting the residents inside, Chief Justice Patrick Curran said he was “utterly convinced they did go in, all together, the males in front, the females behind, but all as a group.” 

Under the Criminal Code, he said, an individual does not have to physically break into a structure to be found guilty of break and enter. Instead, just being present was implied that they were a party to the offence.

“When you stepped across the doorway and stayed in the room, you are party and parcel involved,” Curran said.

The defence’s case rested primarily on the testimony of one of the co-accused in Chisholm’s case, who told New Glasgow Provincial Court on Wednesday that by the time she and Chisholm arrived at the scene, the front door to the trailer was already kicked in and the assaults were already underway.

The witness claimed they were invited to the trailer by the other co-accused in the case, who had told them there was a party.

That testimony didn’t sit well with Curran.

“Let’s assume for just a moment that you somehow arrive, magically, at the split second these three males break into this house…The implication was she had no idea anything was going on until she crossed the threshold and suddenly found herself in utter mayhem…She walks in and sees a scene from hell and she goes in and waits there.”

Most people would turn on their heel and leave immediately if they stumbled upon a scene like that, he said, adding that instead, Chisholm and four co-accused ran into the woods and hid in a neighbour’s garage.

Curran said he discounted the co-accused testimony completely, saying, “she’s got to be kidding. She’s got to be kidding. It’s preposterous. Her evidence is just not believable.”

Instead, he put most of the weight of his decision on testimony given by victim Kevin Briggs, who was stabbed in the back during the melee, and Webb.

Chisholm was also found guilty of breaching a recognizance; three breach of undertaking charges were stayed.

Chisholm was remanded to the correctional facility in Burnside until her sentencing on March 22. In addition to the charges stemming from the Jan. 7 incident, she’ll also be sentenced on a number of prior charges.

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Trenton, Egerton Burnside

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