Couple tells court how Michael Rakai sprayed them with bear mace

Rosie Gillingham
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A St. John’s woman who said she had bear mace sprayed in her face during an attack outside her house said the incident was frightening.

“I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe,” Mary Ann Corbett said. “My whole body felt like it was on fire. …
“It was scary. How can you defend yourself when you can’t see?”

Michael John Rakai, who is accused of attacking a couple with bear mace and a hatchet in April, had his trial begin Wednesday at provincial court in St. John’s.
— Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

Corbett made the comments Wednesday while testifying at provincial court in St. John’s in the trial of Michael John Rakai.

The 34-year-old has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges — three counts each of assault with a weapon and uttering threats, two counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and single counts of assault and mischief by damaging property.

He’s accused of threatening and attacking Corbett and her boyfriend outside Corbett’s house on Merrymeeting Road on April 9.

Around 11 p.m. that night, Corbett said she was on the phone with her daughter when she heard shouting. When she looked outside, she saw Rakai across the street, yelling for Corbett’s boyfriend, William Jordan, to come out.

She said Jordan went out to confront Rakai and the two got into a heated argument.

Seconds later, she said, she saw Rakai with a can of bear mace. She said he sprayed Jordan in the face.

Jordan stumbled to the steps, she said, and she pushed him inside the house. At that moment, she said Rakai sprayed her in the face and then swung a hatchet at her as she raced in the house.

“He was shouting, ‘You’re nothing but a rat!’” Corbett testified.

Corbett said Rakai also proceeded to smash out her front window.

When Jordan took the stand, he said when Rakai was challenging him to come out of the house, “I went out to face him to see what his problem was.”

The two were shouting at each other. Jordan said he saw Rakai had brass knuckles. he said he got sprayed in the face with the mace.

“He got me on the side of the face first,” he said, “but the second time, he got me in the face. …

“I’ve been bear sprayed before, but it never felt as bad as that. It burned for days after.”

Barely able to see, he said, he followed Corbett’s voice to get back to the house.

Once inside, he said, he wiped his eyes with his shirt and saw Rakai smash the front window.

The couple immediately called 911. Police and an ambulance arrived minutes later.

Const. Jeremy Babstock told the court that when he arrived at the house, he saw the front door had orange bear mace over it, while the front patio had several marks on the railing. He said he could even smell the spray, which had a strong odor. Pieces of shattered glass were also scattered underneath the front window.

Photos of the damage were entered into evidence.

Babstock said both Corbett and Jordan were washing out their eyes with water when he got there.

He said they told officers the man responsible was Rakai, who had been their friend until recently. He’s nicknamed Hatchet.

When officers went to Rakai’s house, they saw written in black marker, “Hatchet’s House.” He wasn’t home, but he was arrested the next day. Rakai was released from custody shortly after appearing in court.

Corbett and Jordan said the incident was the result of an ongoing feud between them.

Jordan didn’t say what it was about, but said it’s resulted in several confrontations between them over the last several months.

On the day of the bear mace incident, Corbett said, Rakai had spotted her at the supermarket and waited outside for her with a large dog. He was trying to intimidate her, she said.

Hours later, as Corbett and Jordan were walking Corbett’s teenage daughter to the bus stop, Rakai was seen walking close by. The teen ran up to Rakai, who then reportedly pushed the girl.

A few hours before the final incident, he said, there was also a verbal confrontation outside a nearby convenience store.

Jordan said Rakai and his friend have been taunting them and bothering them for several moths.

When Jordan was on the stand, a handful of people in the back of the courtroom were snickering and chuckling, to the point where he had to stop his testimony to tell the judge he felt uncomfortable. Judge David Orr then asked the group to be quiet.

As Rakai was leaving the courtroom during a break in proceedings, he cursed at a reporter.

Rakai is expected to take the stand today.

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Geographic location: Rakai, Jordan, Merrymeeting Road Hatchet

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