Witness to alleged inmate assault uses ‘shock’ as ‘excuse': defence

By Lucy Scholey



Melissa Schell, a correctional officer at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, leaves the courthouse on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. She's a witness to an alleged assault between colleague John Barbro and inmate Jean Paul Rheaume.

A correctional officer testified she was in such “shock” when she witnessed colleague John Barbro stomp on an inmate’s head that she failed to address policy breaches to staff.

Melissa Schell was back in court on Wednesday as a witness to the incident that allegedly took place at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre on Oct. 23, 2010. She said she saw Barbro stomp on the head of inmate Jean Paul Rheaume, who has a brain injury.

She said she was too in “shock” to bring up the fact that certain workplace policies were breached during the assault.


“That’s going to be your main excuse … ‘I was in shock,’” retorted defence Lawyer Michael Edelson, who fired questions at Schell about her knowledge of workplace rules, including the use of force policy. Her partner – who was with her when they tried restraining Rheaume – escorted the inmate away after the alleged assault. That in itself contravenes work policies, noted Edelson, adding that one of the other 30 officers in the area at the time should have led away the battered Rheaume.

Edelson also pressed Schell on her account of the incident, asking if the general work “rumour mill” might not have fogged her memory.

She remained firm: “I know what I saw,” she said.

Schell was suspended for 15 days following the incident.

Barbro, however, was fired from his job and now faces a charge of assault causing bodily harm.


The trial continues on Thursday.



The Metro Ottawa are to be commended on running this story as is Melissa for her evidence.

This trial was deliberately doomed from the outset with the selection of Corrupt Crown Stooge Jason Nicol who once Stayed Charges before a hearing could be heard when charges were issued by a Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice.

In that case, Jason Nicol was under directions of the Attorney General of Ontario not to be involved in the matter and he and his fellow partner in crime, Crown Dave Thomas of the Timmins Crown.

Jason is just one of hundreds of Crown Attorney's in Ontario who promote domestic violence against fathers.