Wed, June 30, 2004

Dar faked plot: Judge

LETHBRIDGE ALDERMAN Dar Heatherington clenched her teeth and glared as she left court yesterday after a judge ruled she had fabricated a stalker and written lurid letters to herself. At her side, with a protective arm around her, was her husband Dave -- the man her lawyer had suggested could have been responsible for the letters and obscene phone calls to her office and home beginning in October 2002.

Earlier yesterday, Heatherington, 41, sat ramrod straight while Judge Peter Caffaro pronounced her guilty of public mischief in a case that made international headlines. She dabbed at her eyes with a tissue, her sniffles audible throughout the packed courtroom.

"I found that Mrs. Heatherington was not to be trusted to tell the truth," Caffaro said of a videotaped interview the alderman had with Lethbridge police in April 2003 after months of surveillance failed to turn up anything.

The mother of three is to be sentenced Sept. 10. The judge agreed to the Crown's request for psychiatric assessments before that. The maximum sentence is five years in prison.


Heatherington was charged last year after she vanished in Great Falls, Mont., on council business, only to reappear days later in Las Vegas saying she had been abducted and sexually assaulted. She recanted the story to Montana police, but the case put Lethbridge under a media glare for months.

Lethbridge Mayor Bob Tarleck said yesterday he believes the conviction renders Heatherington ineligible to hold public office and appealed to her to step down voluntarily.

"I think the judge's comments and his order that she receive psychiatric assessment indicates he sees that as a step in ... putting her life back together," said Tarleck. "That's where the emphasis needs to be."