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Mark Rumboldt deserves federal prison time, Crown prosecutor says

Mark Rumboldt, 58, attended his sentencing hearing in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s via videolink from the correctional facility in Bishop’s Falls Wednesday morning.
Mark Rumboldt, 58, attended his sentencing hearing in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s via videolink from the correctional facility in Bishop’s Falls Wednesday morning. - Tara Bradbury

'I didn't want this,' woman says about ex-husband who drugged her

Mark Rumboldt's ex-wife sat facing him Wednesday morning as she told a judge and a courtroom full of their family and friends about the devastation she's had to deal with since the night he drugged her.

Rumboldt, 58, wasn't in the courtroom in person, but appeared on a screen via videolink from the correctional facility in Bishop’s Falls, where he has been held since he was found guilty Oct. 6 of drugging the woman by putting sleeping pills and Ativan in her wine. Dressed in a suit and tie, he sat at a table and looked at his own screen, which had a view of his ex-wife and the judge.

"In a marriage, husband and wife give of each other, to care for each other in good times and bad. They are linked to each other's families and they begin life together in a community," the woman began, reading from a piece of paper. "Your Honour, these were the vows I took on May 31, 1991, when I believed I married my best friend, my love and my soulmate."

The woman told the court Rumboldt's actions have changed her life forever, and have had far-reaching and disastrous consequences for her and their entire family. Learning that the person she trusted most in the world had drugged her has resulted in pain that crosses from emotional to physical, she said.

She spoke of losing weight, missing time at work, seeking counselling, and requiring massage and physiotherapy to deal with tension. She told the court she has suffered from immense stress and anxiety, still deals with self-esteem issues, no longer trusts her own judgment of people and fears for her personal safety.

She said she is still haunted by the thought of what might have happened had she not been able to call 911 the night she was drugged.

"The thought of leaving my family and friends to believe that I could have harmed myself is horrifying to me," the woman said. "Especially considering how much I love life."

She told the court she has not returned to the home she shared with Rumboldt since the night she was taken from it in an ambulance. She goes through great pains to avoid that area of the city, she said.

"I feel that all my memories of our life together have been poisoned. Twenty-eight years reduced to pain and misery in one night," she said.

— Rumboldt's ex-wife.

The woman grew the most emotional when she spoke of the extended family she has lost as a result of Rumboldt's crime, saying it's what upsets her the most about the situation. The fractured relationships with people she loved have increased the trauma, she explained.

So, too, did the police investigation and court trial, she said, adding she had been forced to testify about intimate details of her life when she just wanted the situation to disappear so her family, especially her children, wouldn't have to endure it.

"I did not want this. I did not want to be here," she said. "I never wished to see the boy's dad in prison. I say this not as a frightened victim, because I no longer want to identify with that, but I say this as a mother, as a grandmother and as a survivor.

"While every day is still painful, it is time for this nightmare to end. It is time for all of us here to move on and seek peace and healing."

Mark Rumboldt — who was found not guilty Saturday of attempted murder, but guilty of administering a noxious substance to his wife — is led in to Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Tuesday to set a date for his sentencing hearing.
Mark Rumboldt was found not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty of administering a noxious substance to his wife in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court earlier this year.

During Rumboldt's trial, the woman told the court she and Rumboldt had been having trouble in their marriage and had been seeing a counsellor for about three months as of Jan. 22, 2016. That night, the couple had decided to have a quiet night at home with homemade pizza and some drinks, she said. The woman told the court Rumboldt poured her two glasses of wine and ran her a bath. While she was in the tub, she said, he came into the bathroom and collapsed on the floor.

The woman said she remembered jumping up and telling him that she was going to call 911, but had no other memory until two days later, when police told her of the allegation against her husband.

Paramedics and police officers arrived after the woman's 911 call, in which she said her husband had taken Ativan and was drinking, and found the couple intoxicated, but saw no sign of anything that would explain their extreme level of impairment. They were both taken to hospital.

Rumboldt had been discharged before his wife and took a seat by her bedside. At one point a nurse went to check on the woman and found Rumboldt holding a facecloth to her mouth. When the cloth was moved, the nurse noted a white residue and what appeared to be pieces of pills in the woman's mouth. She called for the doctor and two other nurses, and a sweep of the woman's mouth revealed a fluid later found to contain Ativan, a sleeping pill and codeine. A pill bottle belonging to Rumboldt was found on her bed, and a bag containing more medications prescribed to him was found underneath her blanket.

"While every day is still painful, it is time for this nightmare to end. It is time for all of us here to move on and seek peace and healing."

— Rumboldt's ex-wife.

The woman was also found to have high levels of Ativan and the sleeping pill in her blood, but no trace of codeine.

Rumboldt's lawyer, Jeff Brace, suggested at trial that the woman had been the one to poison Rumboldt with the medication before taking some herself in an attempt to take her own life. Brace suggested she had taken the pills herself in hospital. In the end, a jury found Rumboldt guilty of drugging his wife, but not guilty of attempting to murder her.

On Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Scott Hurley argued for a federal jail sentence for Rumboldt of between two and three years. Aggravating factors in the case included that it was a domestic situation — and Rumboldt had drugged his then-wife under the guise of a romantic evening — and had left the woman with lasting psychological damage. There was a danger of more serious consequences had the woman passed out in the bathtub, Hurley said.

Hurley spoke of Rumboldt's audacity in attempting to drug the woman a second time, in hospital.

"To be brazen enough to try again at hospital to administer more drugs under strict supervision is aggravating," he said.

Hurley told the court his main concern wasn't Rumboldt's likelihood to reoffend — as a pre-sentencing report had classified him in the "extremely low" category — but punishment for a serious offence and public deterrence.

Brace argued for a jail sentence of between one and one-and-a-half years, pointing to recommendations in the pre-sentencing report which stressed the importance of maintaining Rumboldt's family unit. A sentence of less than two years would allow Rumboldt to stay in Bishop’s Falls instead of being transferred to a federal penitentiary on the mainland, allowing his children and grandchild to visit.

"I've been some 30 years at the bar … and can say this is only the second pre-sentence report I've seen where a person is classified as at an extremely low risk," Brace said. "Also unique is the fact that (Rumboldt's ex-wife) participated in the pre-sentence report. She spoke highly of Mr. Rumboldt, and spoke highly of their relationship. I'm not suggesting for one minute that this wasn't traumatizing, but she was approached and participated willingly. I've never seen that before."

Justice David Hurley will deliver his sentencing decision Jan. 28.

tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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