By RYAN KING
STEPHENVILLE – On Friday, Oct. 23 sentences were finally handed down for Jody Anderson of Port aux Basques and Peter Rossiter of O’Regan’s, who were both involved in the death of a cat named Mittens on Sept. 10, 2019 in Port aux Basques.
Jody Anderson was found guilty of Injuring or endangering an animal (CCC 1985 [445–a–]). Peter Rossiter was also found guilty of Injuring or endangering an animal (CCC 1985 [445–a–]).
The Crown applied to have both tried jointly, and proceeding by way of indictment the maximum sentence the two faced was up to 5 years imprisonment.
Judge Lynn Cole found both guilty almost a year ago on Dec. 2, 2020, but the sentencing took almost a year due to a number of factors, including Rossiter reporting to court with flu symptoms on multiple occasions. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the matter was forced to be set over more than once.
Judge Cole explained the circumstances of the case.
“Miss Anderson had voluntarily assumed responsibility for a cat, whose original owner had died. Miss Anderson had agreed to provide the cat with a home when requested by a local rescue group who knew Miss Anderson had been friends with the cat’s owner, and she would therefore be familiar with the cat. The rescue group continued to support the cat financially. At trial it was established that on September the 10 of 2019, Miss Anderson and Mr. Rossiter entered the bathroom in Miss Anderson’s apartment with an axe, a garbage bag, and a cat. When they came out, there was something in the garbage bag, but it was not moving. The cat has not been seen since, and the witness at trial did not see the cat come out of the bathroom,” said Cole.
The judge then discussed the circumstances for both.
She noted that Anderson, 40, has a limited formal education, having quit school at age 15. She was noted to have a learning disability and had been bullied at school. Anderson currently receives income support and has not been employed since 2014. She has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and was assessed to be a medium risk to reoffend. Anderson also has a prior and recent criminal record. It was noted that Anderson has faced condemnation from the public and on social media and does not feel safe leaving her home.
Judge Cole explained that Rossiter, 53, receives income support and has not worked since 2019. She noted that he had a traumatic and abusive childhood and was essentially abandoned by his parents. He currently has the support of an elderly couple who were former caregivers. Rossiter has mental health concerns, and a history of drug and alcohol abuse. He also has a criminal record, and was noted as having a high risk to reoffend.
Judge Cole observed that in a victim and community impact statement, Velda Tapp, who is a member of the rescue group that initially approached Anderson to take care of the cat, described feeling traumatized and betrayed by the acts of the offenders.
In their sentencing submissions, the Crown attorney recommended a sentence between 20 and 24 months imprisonment, followed by a three-year probation order. They also requested barring the offenders from owning an animal for life and a weapons prohibition. Defense attorneys recommended a 90 day period of incarceration, followed by an 18 to 24 month probation period. There was no objection to the lifetime ban on owning an animal.
Judge Cole sentenced both to the exact same sentence of 5 months in prison to be followed by 24 months of probation. They are also barred from owning an animal for life.