Tony Gosgnach

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Linda Gibbons released after nearly five months in jail

Tony Gosgnach
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TORONTO, March 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Linda Gibbons was to be released from custody later today at the Vanier Centre for Women prison facility in Milton after being sentenced to time served plus one day at a sentencing hearing in the Ontario Court of Justice at College Park in Toronto this morning.

Justice William R. Wolski had found her guilty two days earlier of disobeying a court order after her arrest outside the "Morgentaler Clinic" abortion site on Hillsdale Avenue last October 30. In doing so, he rejected defence counsel Daniel Santoro's two arguments that an injunction protecting the Morgentaler site did not apply to Gibbons (as she was not named in the injunction and did not consent to it) and that her peaceful conduct did not constitute a breach of the injunction's measures, which include prohibitions on creating a nuisance, injuring the plaintiffs or their "business," watching, besetting, secondary picketing and intimidation.

It was just on the last point that Wolski convicted Gibbons, ruling that her distribution of leaflets while picketing the Morgentaler site did indeed constitute "an attempt to intimidate or unlawfully attempt to interfere with the freedom of the plaintiffs, employees or patients."

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With the conviction, attention turned this morning to length of sentence and whether Gibbons should receive credit for time served on a one-day-for-one-day basis or an "enhanced credit" of 1.5 days for each day actually in prison awaiting trial. Crown attorney Daniel Brandeis, while acknowledging Gibbons is always peaceful in her protests, argued Gibbons is a "repeat customer" before the courts and her sentence should be for the maximum six months and on the one-for-one basis. He noted Gibbons had been offered bail upon arrest but refused it because it included provisions to stay away from abortion sites while awaiting trial.

Santoro, while accepting a six-month term, countered that Gibbons should actually be credited for refusing to sign the bail conditions, instead of her hypocritically signing them and then breaking them shortly thereafter. Wolski accepted Santoro's submissions on that point, while observing that abortion is a "legal medical procedure" and Gibbons is a well-known advocate of the pro-life cause with a history of convictions for breaching court orders.

"Nothing I impose will deter Miss Gibbons," said Wolski. "She will continue to be a 'frequent flyer' before the courts." But, he added, she is not a hypocrite in terms of the administration of justice and has spent sufficient time in custody.

Santoro said immediately after the hearing that he will be filing an appeal on both his rejected arguments. Meanwhile, as the afternoon wore on, a group of Gibbons's Toronto-based supporters were determining how to pick her up in Milton upon her release and bring her to Toronto to enjoy freedom once again.



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