A woman has been sentenced to 120 days in jail plus two years probation after assaulting a business owner and thoroughly vandalizing her downtown Vernon store last September, followed by an assault on a police officer while in custody.
Jayleen Dorothy Fuller was found guilty of assault, assault of a police officer and mischief to property over $5,000. Fuller pleaded not guilty to the charges in December, and was representing herself at the Vernon Law Courts on Thursday.
The 28-year-old’s charges were laid out in two separate trials, but since they took place one day apart Judge Richard Hewson heard both trials consecutively before giving a sentence.
In sentencing Fuller — who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — Hewson expressed the challenge of trying to accomplish two things at once: giving the mother of three a chance to rehabilitate, while also deterring others from harming businesses downtown — a common topic of discussion in the city of late with the owner of Okanagan Skate Co. having left the downtown core last month.
“I have to stand up and say to everybody in the community, this is wrong. You can’t go into somebody’s store and damage it. You just can’t,” Hewson said.
“At the same time, the community expects that I’m going to impose sentences that are going to rehabilitate people… help people be better in the future.”
The court heard from Diana Vona, owner of Casa Bella Bedding Boutique on 30th Street in Vernon. She described the events that took place in her on Sept. 20, 2019.
Shortly before 11 a.m., Fuller entered Casa Bella. She and Vona were the only people in the store at the time. When Fuller went to go upstairs to the store’s second level, Vona asked her to leave her backpack on the main floor. Fuller refused and went to the upper level with her bag, where she knocked over a mannequin.
After refusing to pick up the mannequin, Vona said Fuller struck her.
“She says, ‘I’m not leaving.’ And then I go to turn around and she belts me one,” Vona said.
A struggle ensued which involved Fuller snatching Vona’s glasses from her face, breaking them in half. Fuller went on to break items throughout the store. She was only kept from causing more damage by a trio of good Samaritans who came into the store and helped restrain her until police arrived.
Crown counsel James Bagan characterized Fuller’s vandalism as “relentless” until it was stopped by the people passing by.
“All four corners of the store were largely taken down as a result of this,” Bagan said.
According to the insurance receipts placed before judge Hewson, Fuller damaged 54 store items with a total value between $5,000 and $7,000.
With 120 days to her credit for time she already spent in custody, Fuller was given time served along with a two-year probation order.
Under the terms of her probation, Fuller must not make and contact or communication with Vona and is barred from the 3200 block of 30th Avenue. She’s also banned from possessing firearms and other weapons for five years and must undergo counselling and treatment as directed.
The Crown sought to exceed time served by two months, with Bagan citing the need for “a general deterrent and renunciation for challenges that the community has with regard to property crime within the downtown core.”
The court also heard from the Vernon RCMP officer who was in charge of escorting Fuller to the telephone booth at the local detachment to access legal counsel on the day after her arrest.
The officer recalled hearing Fuller yelling while in the phone booth, and when the call was finished he said she failed to follow his directions back to her cell.
The officer put a hand on her shoulder to direct her down the correct corridor, at which point she swung her fist at him. A struggle ensued before the officer was able to gain control of Fuller.
A video clip of about 45 seconds was shown before court and showed a majority the altercation.
To her credit, Hewson said he had “no issues in dealing with Ms. Fuller here today,” while she defended herself in court.
Fuller argued that she should receive time served and an order to pay restitution for the damage she caused.
After expressing her wish to apologize to Vona’s business, Hewson gave her a few minutes to write an apology letter to the store owner. Vona did so, and Hewson said the letter would be given to Vona by the probation officer.