Charge of endangering aircraft dropped against senator's wife
Published Tuesday, August 28, 2012 8:24AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 28, 2012 8:06PM EDT
The wife of a Canadian senator no longer faces a charge of endangering the safety of an aircraft following an incident on an Air Canada flight late last week, but instead faces two different charges.
Maygan Sensenberger appeared in a domestic violence court on Tuesday where she learned that while the initial charge has been dropped, new charges had been laid.
The 23-year-old now faces one count of uttering threats, in addition to causing a disturbance while on a plane with her husband, Manitoba Sen. Rod Zimmer.
Sensenberger appeared at a Saskatoon court with her new lawyer Leslie Sullivan, who requested an adjournment until about 2 p.m. local time.
By 5:00 p.m. the case was adjourned for the day.
Sensenberger’s lawyer told reporters that she needed time to go over new information that has come up in the case.
Tthe most serious charge of endangering the safety of an aircraft was dropped. Under the Criminal Code, the charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
"The two charges now are causing a disturbance and uttering threats and those are the only two charges. The Crown proceeded summarily," Sullivan said outside the courthouse.
Sullivan said she could not discuss her client’s state of mind or if she hopes to resolve the case on Wednesday.
It’s unclear whether Sensenberger has been accused of uttering threats against her husband, or other passengers on the plane, which originated in Halifax and was headed for Saskatoon.
Police allege she yelled about bringing down the plane and threatened her husband. However, one witness says she was simply concerned about her husband’s health and wanted someone to help them. Her husband encountered breathing problems during the flight.
Former ambulance attendant Scott Wright, who was on Air Canada Flight 8597, told The Canadian Press that Sensenberger was concerned about her husband’s health.
Wright alleges that while he stepped in to help Zimmer, Sensenberger did yell and swear at a few other passengers who were attempting to see what was happening.
Wright said the plane’s crew gave Zimmer oxygen and he started to feel better. However, Sensenberger was still angry and the couple quarrelled over his condition, he said.
Police say the threats were made before anyone expressed concerns over Zimmer’s health.
Sensenberger was released on bail Monday on the condition that she does not have any contact with Zimmer, a Liberal senator who is 46 years his wife’s senior.
Another part of Sensenberger’s release stipulates that she cannot drink alcohol or be in licensed establishments.
Sensenberger’s first court date came on the one-year anniversary of her marriage to Zimmer.
CTV News Channel's Mercedes Stephenson said Tuesday that it’s not yet known how the unusual case will work its way through the legal system.
“The first judge deemed that this needed to go to domestic violence court, but we’ll have to see if it stays in domestic violence court,” she said.
Domestic Violence Court is a branch of the provincial court system that gives the accused the option to undergo counselling for domestic violence or substance abuse if they plead guilty.
With files from CTV Saskatoon’s Jennifer Jellicoe and The Canadian Press