Woman who stabbed boyfriend says she’s ‘not a violent person’

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Kathryn Saunders to be sentenced next month

For 15 years, it was Kathryn Patricia Saunders’ job to counsel university students on such issues as responsible drinking.

Kathryn Saunders was in provincial court in St. John’s Monday for her sentencing hearing. She will find out Oct. 2 how long she’ll spend in jail for stabbing her boyfriend in the stomach. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

On Monday, the 47-year-old admitted to a judge she had a serious alcohol problem and regretted stabbing her boyfriend and scalding him with a pot of boiling water.

“I’m not a violent person. I didn’t intend any harm,” Saunders said during her sentencing hearing at provincial court in St. John’s.

“I’m deeply, deeply sorry.”

Saunders has been convicted of assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and several counts of breaching court orders.

The charges were laid as a result of an incident that happened last spring at a house on Topsail Road, where she and her boyfriend once lived.

On March 31, on Easter Sunday, as the man was cooking turkey dinner with a male friend, Saunders walked in.

She wasn’t even supposed to be there, having been on strict court orders to stay away from the man and the house after she was charged with assaulting him, damaging property and resisting arrest just weeks before.

She claimed she came back to get her clothes.

She had brought a bottle of white wine — despite court orders that she abstain from alcohol — and wasn’t wearing shoes. She left the wine outside before she went into the house.

Upon seeing her, her boyfriend became upset and pushed her several times.

Saunders claimed during the trial last month he grabbed her hair, dragged her across the room and pounded her head on the stove several times.

During the confrontation, Saunders grabbed a bread knife from the counter and thrust it into his stomach. He fell, but soon got up and moved towards her.

Saunders then threw a pot of hot water — which he had been boiling vegetables in — at him.

The man was able to get up again and call 911.

He needed surgery to repair the gash in his stomach. He was also treated for a slash wound to his face and burns to his arm and legs.

Saunders claimed it was self-defence — a way of protecting herself from the man’s vicious attack —but a judge said she went too far.

It was one of numerous confrontations between Saunders and her boyfriend.

Police were familiar with the couple, having responded to close to 30 calls for help at the house — the second-most calls received on the Northeast Avalon by the RNC in the year, Const. Suzanne FitzGerald had testified.

At the hearing Monday, defence lawyer Michelle Coady pointed out while Saunders has a criminal record, it didn’t include violent offences until she met the complainant.

Coady acknowledged the seriousness of Saunders’ actions, but stressed the importance of looking beyond the offence. She said it’s also key to consider what was going on in Saunders’ life at the time.

Saunders once had a successful life and career, Coady pointed out.

She graduated in 1991 from Dalhousie University with a bachelor of science degree and worked as a wellness educator at Memorial University. She was also married with two children.

However, her addiction to alcohol soon got the best of her. She split from her husband and left her job in 2006. By then, she had two impaired driving convictions.

Her drinking problem worsened when another six-year relationship ended and again when her mother died last year.

Her relationship with her latest boyfriend was tumultuous.

However, since being in jail, Saunders has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and getting counselling.

“I’m looking forward to a bright future with my children,” Saunders stated to the judge.

Crown prosecutor Jason House said the fact there were so many incidents involving the same complainant is an aggravating factor in the case.

He also pointed to the seriousness of the assault and the man’s injuries.

“What compounds it is that she proceeded to throw a pot of boiling water over him,” he said.

House suggested a sentence of three to four years in jail, with straight-time credit for the 170 days Saunders has spent in custody.

Coady said a sentence of three years with 1.5 times credit was more appropriate.

Judge Jim Walsh will render his decision Oct. 2.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: Dalhousie University, Alcoholics Anonymous, Jason House

Geographic location: Topsail Road, Northeast Avalon

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  • Thinker
    September 17, 2013 - 13:12

    If she had to be high on weed she probably would have been charged with trying to steal the turkey. Alcohol is by far a worse drug than weed but its legal and destructive.

  • Cat
    September 17, 2013 - 05:16

    Not a violent person? Scary!!