Veronica Ann Park says she doesn’t remember a lot about the night of April 22.
That was the night she violently mugged an 82-year-old woman she had earlier been watching play video lottery machines at a downtown bar.
Still, moments before she was taken away to serve a three-year prison sentence, the 37-year-old woman from Corner Brook said she was remorseful for what she did.
The older woman was not present in provincial court, nor was anyone from her family, for Park’s appearance before Judge Wayne Gorman Monday.
Peter Chaffey, the legal aid lawyer who represented Park, entered guilty pleas on her behalf and agreed to a joint submission by Crown attorney John Noseworthy, recommending a three-year sentence for the crime.
Chaffey told Gorman that Park had a rough upbringing and had turned to drugs as a coping mechanism, albeit an inappropriate one, at a young age. He also told the court that Park had lost her social services benefits last summer after authorities learned she had received an amount of money.
Her drug addiction and the lack of an income may have contributed to the motive to rob the woman. Park, when given a chance to address the court, said she had “hit rock bottom” at the time of the offence.
The court heard that the victim had noticed Park watching her as she played the video lottery games at a bar on Broadway, but never thought much of it at the time. The woman, who was celebrating her birthday the night of the attack, left the bar after cashing out $153 on the machines.
Not far from the bar, the woman was knocked down by Park, who grabbed the older woman’s purse and ran off with it. The woman broke her arm and suffered lacerations to her right knee in the attack.
“I’m sorry your arm was broke,” Park said, reading from a prepared statement she had for the sentencing hearing. “That was not my intention.”
The purse, which contained about $400 in cash and other personal items, was eventually located by police and returned to the victim.
“The money was not worth the time I will have to spend (in prison),” Park told the court, adding that she hopes to use the time she will be in custody to address her addictions issues and turn her life around.
“I was in denial,” Park said. “Now I’m going away to get help for my sickness, which is addiction.”
The woman who was robbed did provide the court with a victim impact statement, in which she said the most difficult part of the ordeal wasn’t the idea of having money stolen from her. She said the painful injury has limited her ability to carry out her day-to-day chores and she felt like she has lost her independence.
The thought of having lost the other personal items in her purse — such as her family photos and her aboriginal status card — were also worrisome.
The joint submission from Noseworthy and Chaffey relied primarily on the locally high-profile case of Jonathan Kelly, who was given a three-year sentence for attacking and attempting to rob a teenage girl on the Corner Brook Stream Trail network in 2012.
In both cases, said Noseworthy, the attacks were on vulnerable people in public places by people with prior criminal records.
Park’s criminal record stretches 17 pages and contains prior convictions for theft, assault, uttering threats and breaching court orders.
At the time of the robbery, Park was under a recognizance to keep the peace and be of good behaviour that had been issued by provincial court one week previously. She pleaded guilty Wednesday to breaching that court order and was given a 30-day sentence to be served concurrently with the three-year sentence.
At the time of sentencing Wednesday, Park had already served 33 days in custody since her arrest April 24. That time will be subtracted from her three-year term.
The Western Star