Client treated like 'Osama bin Heatherington,' says lawyer

Last Updated Mon, 01 Nov 2004 16:14:08 EST

LETHBRIDGE - A lawyer for disgraced Lethbridge alderman Dar Heatherington, who is accused of breaching the conditional sentence she was given for inventing a stalker, says Alberta justice officials are being overly aggressive about tracking her client.

"It's just brutal," Tracy Hembroff said of the way her client is being treated. "I was thinking this morning on my way to work, 'You'd think this was Osama bin Heatherington.'"



Heatherington is serving a 20-month conditional sentence for her public mischief conviction in June. For the first eight months, it lets her leave her house only to take her children to school, go shopping, attend church and keep counselling appointments.

However, an off-duty police officer claims to have twice seen her out in the community at times not allowed by the terms of her sentence.



That means the 41-year-old mother of three must return to court to have a judge re-evaluate her fate.

Hembroff says the alleged breaches of Heatherington's sentence were minor.

The lawyer also says that Peter Caffaro, the judge who found Heatherington guilty, shouldn't hear the allegations that she has breached the terms of her sentence because he has already ruled that he doesn't find her credible.

"I don't believe that she can take the stand in a situation like that, where a judge has already said, in writing, that she cannot be trusted and has no credibility whatsoever," Hembroff said. "So I will hotly contest that judge hearing this particular matter, if in fact it goes to hearing."



Heatherington first made national headlines in May 2003 when she disappeared from Great Falls, turning up in Las Vegas three days later. She claimed she had been abducted, drugged and sexually assaulted.

However, police in Montana said Heatherington then changed her story, telling them she had travelled to Las Vegas with a man. She was charged with making a false statement to police, but the charge was dropped after she agreed to get psychiatric counselling.

In a separate 2002 incident, Heatherington told Lethbridge police that an anonymous man was harassing her with telephone calls and letters.

She was charged a year ago when police concluded, after an eight-month investigation into her stalking allegations, that she was making them up.

Heatherington has appealed her conviction and the conditional sentence imposed on her in September.

Written by CBC News Online staff