A woman accused of stabbing a Brandon police officer in the head with a meth-filled needle has been granted bail while she waits for an assessment to determine whether she should be held criminally responsible.
Raeleen Benn, 25, is facing numerous charges in Brandon provincial court, including aggravated assault of a peace officer, assault with a weapon, uttering threats, and theft under $5,000.
None of the charges has been proven in court and Benn is presumed innocent.
On Dec. 12, police received a call from a woman asking for someone to remove her daughter from her home, as she was causing a disturbance and smashing things, Crown attorney Deidre Badcock told the court on Thursday.
An officer arrived on scene and immediately heard a smash followed by a woman yelling "you broke my door," Badcock said, so he went inside the home to arrest the woman causing a disturbance for mischief.
He found the woman with her hands in her pockets, Badcock said, and when she removed them she was holding a needle in one hand
filled with an unknown substance.
It was later determined the needle was filled with methamphetamine, Badcock said.
The officer tried to place the woman in handcuffs but she struggled and pulled away, taking a fighting stance against the officer.
She began swinging the needle at the officer’s hands, legs and head, Badcock said, eventually stabbing him on the top of his head.
While doing this, the woman started threatening to kill the officer, Badcock said. The other woman who originally called police and another person in the home started to get aggressive with the officer as well, calling him racist and yelling that police were trying to kill her.
"This is an officer who went there for a disturbance call and ended up with a hypodermic needle stabbed in the top of his head," Badcock said.
Eventually backup officers arrived and assisted with the arrest and the injured officer, who was bleeding from the head.
They had to search for the point of the needle, Badcock said, which had broken off at some point during the scuffle.
Benn was also arrested numerous times last year for allegedly shoplifting multiple times from multiple stores, Badcock said, and breaching orders that banned her from businesses such as the Real Canadian Superstore and Shoppers Mall.
Benn underwent a fitness assessment earlier this year and was found fit to stand trial, Badcock said, however concerns were raised regarding Benn’s mental health.
An assessment to determine whether Benn is criminally responsible was ordered in March, Badcock said, and is expected to be completed in July.
If released in the meantime, Badcock said she was concerned Benn would spiral back into a methamphetamine addiction, possibly reoffend and not show up for scheduled court dates or appointments.
"If Ms. Benn’s past behaviour is any predictor of her future behaviour, it seems clear she is a major risk to reoffend," Badcock said. "Even more concerning is her risk on the tertiary ground, and the concern the public would have if she were to be released from custody."
Defence lawyer Bob Harrison disagreed with the Crown’s comments, saying Benn’s psychiatric issues were being ignored.
Benn was suffering from "significant mental-health issues" at the time of the incident, including schizophrenia, Harrison said, and wasn’t on her medication at the time.
Benn has been sober since going into custody in December, is now on medication and has supports in the community who want to see her stay that way, Harrison said, adding it was complete speculation that Benn wouldn’t attend appointments if released.
With a strict bail plan, Harrison argued Benn could be managed in the community.
While Judge Donovan Dvorak noted the allegations were very concerning, sitting in custody for eight months waiting for an assessment that should have been completed within four months was unreasonable.
"The maximum in terms of assessment times is actually 30 days … the provisions of the Criminal Code allow for an extension under exceptional circumstances up to 60 days … It should have already been done. If the timelines were followed, it would have already been done in April or May, which is also passed. Now we’re looking at July," Dvorak said.
"I’m not sure that a fair-minded member of the public would say it’s OK to hold someone who may be not criminally responsible — we haven’t made that determination — for eight months … while we determine whether she is in fact, criminally responsible."
Benn will be released under house arrest on a $500 cash deposit and a $2,000 promise to pay.
She is scheduled to appear in court again in July.
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