A WOMAN who took up a lot of police time after making a false complaint against what turned out to be fictitious people will serve her sentence in the community.
Judge Calvin Struyk handed a conditional sentence order to Holly Hill, 42, who had pleaded guilty to one count of reporting an offence committed when it was not in provincial court here March 6.
“People make mistakes. This is a very big mistake and ultimately she has taken responsibility [for it],” said Struyk.
Struyk ordered her to spend 18 months on probation with conditions including completing 80 hours of community work service within the first 12 months of her sentence.
“I’d just like to apologize. I’m very, very sorry. If I could change it, I would. I hurt a lot of people. If I could just apologize to the police officers and for taking up their time. I’m very, very sorry,” said Hill.
On Aug. 30, 2008, police began an investigation after a woman said she had been assaulted by two men, who robbed her of the ATV she had been riding near Hwy 16 and the Copper River Bridge, said police at that time.
The ATV was later recovered a short distance away where it had been abandoned, said police.
The suspects were described as white males, in their 20s, who had dark wavy hair, were unshaven and had a generally unkempt appearance, said police.
About a month later, a Terrace police officer believed a car thief had the same name as one of the ATV assailants and had stolen a car in a remote area near Kitimat, which was similar to the ATV theft, said prosecutor Barry Zacharias in reviewing the evidence before sentencing.
The officer began a high speed chase to catch the culprit, court heard.
The chase ended with the stolen vehicle crashing into another police vehicle; that officer had deliberately placed his vehicle in the path of the stolen car in an attempt to get the driver to stop, court heard.
The police officer wasn’t hurt; the driver was taken to hospital and later released into police custody, court heard.
The vehicles sustained damage of more than $22,000, court heard.
“This gives us some understanding of where untruths take us,” said Zacharias.
In November 2008, when Hill was confronted by police after suspicions arose about some information provided by her that was not consistent with what was expected in this type of matter, she admitted she had made up the story, court heard.
Hill was an inexperienced ATV rider, who went out for a ride and crashed the vehicle, said defence lawyer Scott Mulder.
Since then, she had quit her job in social services, which she missed, lost the respect of her children and her marriage had faltered, said Mulder.
“Initially, the thought was [the story] would get her out of trouble. The problem was once it started snowballing and she could not find a way out without make herself a fool or liar,” said Mulder.
If she had a criminal record, she would not be able to get her job back, which she was hoping to do, said Mulder.
Hill was in counselling, was seeing a psychiatrist who was treating her for depression and was so embarrassed she would not go out of her house, said Mulder.
She had family here but had estranged herself from them because of the shame she felt about the incident, court heard.
Hill wanted to move forward with her life, court heard.
Mulder told court that while the car chase by police with the car thief led back to this case, the fault for the chase was the driver’s as he decided that the way out of his trouble was to ram a police car.
Struyk noted that Hill had no prior criminal record.
“I do not see why she cannot have the benefits of a conditional sentence order, provided she does comply with the conditions I impose,” said Struyk, adding she could then return to being a contributing member of society.
She had acted in a moment of panic and she hadn’t tried to pin the incident on real people, said Struyk.
“One thing I think is distinct and important to keep in mind: Ms. Hill did not make a false complaint about a real person who then was charged and had to defend himself against the false complaint. These were fictitious individuals from the outset…I think that is the distinguishing concern,” said Struyk.
Hill was also ordered to pay a $50 victim surcharge fine and has six months to pay.