House arrest for biting a cop


October 5, 2004

An "out of control" woman who bit a chunk out of a city police officer's hand while resisting arrest for stealing from cars was put under house arrest yesterday. Patricia Anne Shybunka, 44, was handed an 18-month conditional sentence to be served in the community after earlier pleading guilty to assault causing bodily harm and possession of stolen property under $5,000.

Provincial court Judge Paul Sully said Shybunka was "out of control" at the time of the March 24, 2003, offence and it was aggravating that she assaulted a police officer.

"The accused did resist arrest and did injure a police officer," said Sully. "Certainly, police officers need to be protected."

However, the judge ruled the bite was on the lower scale of injuries and Shybunka does not pose a danger to society, so a sentence in the community is warranted.

"It is clear this was completely out of character," said Sully. "This is a woman who, in all likelihood, is going to try and reform her ways."

Crown prosecutor Christian Lim said Shybunka was resisting arrest when she bit Const. Darren Zimmerman on the hand through the leather glove he was wearing.

"She bit a police officer on duty and flesh was actually missing from the hand," said Lim, who asked for a three- to six-month sentence.

Court heard Shybunka had drug track marks on her arm and Zimmerman had to take preventive medication to ward off the potential of any blood-borne diseases.

Sully said the possession-of-stolen-property charge stemmed from Shybunka going into two vehicles and taking the documents of people she didn't know.

When Shybunka was nabbed in the area of 135 Street and 124 Avenue, police said at the time they had been there investigating a suspicious $150,000 house fire.

Shybunka was earlier charged with arson, but the charge was withdrawn due to a lack of evidence.

Defence lawyer Jim Robertson said Shybunka, who has since moved to Ontario, was on drugs at the time and in a severe state of panic due to the house fire.

"She was so panicked she was irrational," said Robertson, adding she cannot give a reason for going into the cars.

Shybunka was ordered to be under house arrest for six months and abide by a curfew for one year.