Original article no longer available
The Bugle Observer
Published Tuesday August 25th, 2009
A provincial court judge said he could not convict a Nackawic woman of theft, despite finding her testimony unbelievable. Judge John J. Walsh announced his decision in a Woodstock courtroom Friday morning, finding Julie Boone, 34, not guilty of the crime of theft under $5,000.
“Her explanations were not logical, nor were they rational,” the judge said as he read his decision.
Boone’s trial began in May, as former members of the Nackawic Community Days committee took the stand, testifying about the disappearance of approximately $800 raised at a dance in 2007, a dance held to raise money for Nackawic Community Days, a dance where Boone worked the door and was supposed to deposit the funds raised into an account for the committee.
But somewhere along the way, the money was lost, or, as the Crown alleged, stolen by Boone.
On the first day of the trial back in May, another former committee member, Julie Brown, testified the dance had been Boone’s idea.
Brown said when the committee met following the dance, in June 2007, Boone told the committee she’d dropped the money in the night deposit box at the Scotiabank branch in Nackawic, a total of about $800.
But according to Brown, a bank statement didn’t show the deposit.
Later on, it was learned an envelope containing receipts had been dropped in the night deposit slot at the CIBC branch in Nackawic, which is situated in the same mall as the Scotiabank.
Brown told the court Boone was evasive as the committee tried to track the money down.
“Every time I talked to her there was a new excuse,” Brown said.
Brown said the money was never found or recovered.
The trial was adjourned to Aug. 19, at which time, Boone took the stand in her own defence.
According to Boone, she had worked the door at the Saturday dance by herself, although she said there were supposed to be two other volunteers, but they didn’t show up.
Following the dance, Boone said she’d placed the money in an envelope, which she would deposit the following Monday.
Boone said she’d placed the envelope under the front seat of her car for safekeeping.
The day after the dance, a Sunday, Boone said she decided she’d deposit the money. She said she’d been told by a neighbour about a series of break-ins to vehicles in the area, and decided the money should go to the bank sooner rather than later.
“In my haste, I put it in the wrong bank,” Boone said, offering an explanation as to why an envelope containing receipts and not the money from the dance ended up at the CIBC.
Boone said she had no explanation as to what happened to the money, although she told the court she had been suffering from depression at the time, and was taking some medication that may have affected her memory.
Boone said she thought she may have sent the money out west by accident. She said she had sent some photos of one of her children to the father of the child, but thought she may have sent the money. She said after communication with the father, she determined the money had not gone west.
So from June 2007 to January 2009, the money remained missing.
But Boone made a startling revelation during her testimony.
It seems the vehicle she’d been driving at the time of the dance had been passed to her sister, then to her father, and in January 2009, was at her parents’ home.
Boone said she had been trying to retrace her steps, contacting anyone she may have dealt with in June 2007 as she continued to try and locate the money.
Boone said she had gone to the vehicle and thoroughly searched it. She said under the trunk of the car, where the spare tire is kept, she located a file folder. According to Boone, the folder contained papers relating to her work on the Community Days committee. She said there was also an envelope containing a significant sum of money, which she said she realized was the money from the dance.
Boone said she had no explanation for how the envelope ended up in the trunk of her car.
“I wish I did,” she said.
Boone produced the envelope in court, to the surprise of Crown prosecutor Christopher Lavigne.
Lavigne told Judge Walsh he’d never seen the envelope before, and wouldn’t be able to consent to entering the envelope into evidence without an opportunity to examine the contents.
Upon examining the contents, Lavigne found the envelope contained $780.50. Of that total, $20.50 was what remained of a float Boone had the night of the dance. The rest was from ticket sales.
During cross-examination, Lavigne said he found it unusual that every bill in the envelope was dated 2004. Boone said she’d never taken the money out of the envelope after she found it, and had never looked at the dates on the bills.
In making final arguments, Boone’s lawyer, Brent Dickinson, said his client’s story was consistent throughout her testimony, despite the Crown’s attempts to poke holes in it.
While the judge agreed the story was consistent, he still found it troubling. “Her story is, quite frankly, fishy,” Judge Walsh said. “It raises a lot of alarm bells.”
But when giving his decision, Judge Walsh said he had reasonable doubt about Boone’s guilt.
“Can I reject her evidence outright?” the judge asked. “I find I can’t.”
Based on the reasonable doubt, Boone was found not guilty. Both Lavigne and Dickinson agreed the money should be returned to the Nackawic Community Days committee.