Sentencing is underway for a woman accused of threatening to behead another passenger as they travelled on a Greyhound bus.
But the hearing was interrupted and delayed. Witnesses will now be called because the woman claims she didn’t specifically threaten to chop off the fellow passenger’s head.
Judge John Combs said he wants to be clear about what the woman threatened to do — a threat to cut off someone’s head on a bus could be viewed as especially serious by the court.
“We all know the history of what happened on a Greyhound bus,” Combs said in Brandon court on Thursday.
Jamie Linda Scheschuk, 22, pleaded guilty to uttering threats and to failing to abide by a bail-ordered curfew.
Crown attorney Grant Hughes said police were called to the Neepawa bus depot around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 1 with a report that a woman had threatened to kill another passenger and cut off his head.
The woman had allegedly threatened the man because she was annoyed with his crying child.
The account of what exactly was said on the bus as it travelled toward Neepawa varies between witnesses and is now in dispute.
As such, the following allegations, as outlined by Hughes in court, haven’t been proven.
Hughes said the father who was allegedly threatened told police that a woman seated two rows behind him had shouted: “Somebody shut that … baby the f--k up.”
The agitated woman then threatened to kill the father at the next stop.
“She told him she was going to chop his head off,” Hughes said.
However, the man’s common-law girlfriend, and mother of the child, heard the angry woman say: “Wait until we get off, I’m going to ring your f-----g little neck”.
The bus driver had yet another version. He said the father had told him that the woman had threatened to kill and behead the baby. The driver said the woman admitted making comments, but said she didn’t mean them.
The bus driver noted that woman appeared to have no weapons.
Hughes said that Scheschuk told police that she’d boarded the bus in Winnipeg and the child had been screaming for two hours.
She said she wasn’t feeling well and had asked the father three times to calm the child down but was ignored. She claimed that, on her fourth attempt, the father threatened to kill her and she returned the threat.
Hughes said Scheschuk told police that she’d threatened to throw someone out the window if the child couldn’t be calmed — but it’s not clear by her comment who she was referring to.
Police learned that Scheschuk was supposed to be living in her hometown, The Pas, and abide by a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew as part of a bail order. The bus had been travelling to Flin Flon at the time of the commotion.
Scheschuk has been in custody since.
Court heard that she may have mental health issues, but they weren’t specified.
Combs then interrupted Hughes’ account to ask precisely what Scheschuk admitted to saying —threatening to cut someone’s head off on a bus would be especially serious given “history”.
Tim McLean was killed and beheaded by Vince Li aboard a Greyhound bus near Portage la Prairie in July 2008.
Hughes said he and defence lawyer Philip Sieklicki agreed that Scheschuk had threatened to kill the father, but the means was in dispute.
Hughes hinted that the accused may claim that she’d threatened to cut off some other body part, but the father specifically says she’d threatened to cut off his head.
Given the McLean case, Hughes said he’s willing to call the father as a witness to prove the threat to behead.
Sieklicki said his client admits that she’d threatened to kill her fellow passenger at the next stop, but her account differs as to whether she threatened to behead him.
He didn’t get a chance to explain before Combs recommended a sentencing hearing and adjourned the matter to next month.
Following court, Hughes explained that a threat to cut off someone’s head on a bus, given history, would add an extra element of fear to the crime.
It would be an aggravating factor and could bring a tougher sentence.
Hughes and Sieklicki haven’t indicated the sentence they’ll seek.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 28, 2012