Woman a danger to children, society: family

Fears sister’s threats against children will one day escalate into action

Published on August 13, 2014
Nancy Marie Hart, 49, is shown at provincial court in St. John’s. She was sentenced Tuesday to nearly a year in prison for uttering threats against children at a St. John’s elementary school in June.
— Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

Members of Nancy Marie Hart’s family fear her threats against children will continue and eventually grow into something more serious if action isn’t taken to keep her off the streets.

Hart, 49, was sentenced to nearly a year in prison Tuesday. She had pleaded guilty in provincial court in St. John’s to charges of uttering threats and mischief in relation to schoolchildren at Bishop Feild Elementary in St. John's on June 9.

Hart had called the RNC shortly after 4 a.m. that day from a payphone to say she was going to kidnap a young boy and a young girl from the school, sexually assault them, kill them and then jump off a bridge.

The school went into secure mode that day and parents and guardians were eventually called to come and take their children home.

Hart’s sister Violet Cooper told the media after the sentencing hearing Tuesday that the justice system is not taking her sister’s case serious enough.

“She’ll be out in less than a year and she’ll do the same thing over again,” Cooper said. “What’s going to happen the next time? It will probably be more than a threat. She’s going to go out and kill someone.”

Crown prosecutor Jason House and defence lawyer Joan Dawson presented a joint submission on sentence Tuesday — 15 months in prison and three years’ probation.

Judge Mark Linehan sentenced Hart to 450 days in total for the three charges — uttering threats, mischief and breaching a long-term supervision order she is currently under — but Hart was given 1.5 days’ credit for timed served since her arrest, which knocked 96 days off the sentence and leaves 354 to serve.

She will also be placed on probation for three years following the completion of the prison sentence.

The court was told that Hart’s criminal record is 12-pages long and contains offences such as uttering threats, breach of a long-term supervision order, sexual assault, assault with a weapon, arson, break and enter, mischief and resisting arrest.

In fact, House noted that in 2011, Hart was convicted of charges of uttering threats against children and breaching the same supervision order.

“Almost a carbon copy” of the current charges, he said.

Cooper said there are no programs to help or properly supervise people like her sister who can’t be counted upon to take medications regularly on her own, or maintain good behaviour.

She said Hart doesn’t even acknowledge she has a problem and has no remorse for her actions.

“I love my sister, don’t get me wrong, but she’s a threat to herself and a threat to society, especially little children,” Cooper said.

“There are playgrounds and schools everywhere. I want her to be put in a place where she can get help, not come and go when she likes to.

“I have grandchildren and Nancy has never seen them. I don’t trust Nancy around my grandchildren and my daughter doesn’t trust her around my grandchildren. My sisters have grandchildren and they don’t trust Nancy around them, because we know what she is like.”

When Hart addressed the court, she said she wanted to be placed on another 10-year, long-term supervision order with a sex offender program.

In the agreed facts of the case it was noted that one of the reasons Hart gave for making the threats in June was that her present long-term supervision order will be over in a couple of months and she wanted it continued.

Linehan noted that Hart still has to serve the remainder of that supervision order before any request is considered.

He said the conditions of her three-year probation when she is released from prison will include: not to have contact with children younger than 16 unless accompanied by another adult who has been approved by authorities; not go near any parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, trails or areas frequented by children; and not seek employment or be in a volunteer capacity in a position of trust over children younger than 16.

Hart will also have to provide a DNA sample to police and be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.

“The facts show a serious and troubling threat called into the police,” Linehan said. “The calls were disruptive and frightening.”

Approximately 240 students attend Bishop Feild Elementary.

Tony Stack, assistant director of education for the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, said at the time of the incident that the school operated in secure mode. That meant no internal threat was present and classroom instruction could continue, but with restricted movement enforced inside the school. It is not comparable to lockdown mode, which would involve a known internal threat at the school.