A Kamloops woman’s strict house arrest terms are no more onerous than the conditions under which most British Columbians are living as the global coronavirus pandemic continues, a judge has ruled.
Jennifer Manuel is charged with assault with a weapon, as well as a string of firearms charges stemming from an incident last year that saw a man stabbed in the Northbridge Hotel at 377 Tranquille Rd. in North Kamloops.
Manuel, 37, was one of four people arrested following the May 15, 2019, incident, which police said was connected to the city’s drug trade. The 34-year-old Prince George man who was stabbed suffered serious injuries but survived.
Charged alongside Manuel are Devon McConnell, 40, and Derek Jensen, 34. Jensen and McConnell have waived their right to a preliminary inquiry and elected trial in B.C. Supreme Court.
Manuel, who is free on strict bail terms equating to house arrest, had a preliminary inquiry slated to get underway May 5.
Her lawyer, Jeremy Jensen, asked a judge to deem Manuel’s matter urgent — a designation reserved almost exclusively for those in custody — so the hearing could take place as planned.
Jensen argued the stringent bail conditions mean Manuel might as well be behind bars.
Provincial court Judge Gregory Koturbash was not convinced.
“Urgency means something that requires immediate attention or swift action,” he said. “It is synonymous with critical, emergency and highest priority.”
Koturbash said the definition of urgency has to be looked at in context given what is happening across B.C..
“Last month, Mr. Jensen’s argument might have gained some traction,” Koturbash said.
“But in the current world of self-isolation, it cannot. Ms. Manuel’s liberty is about as restricted as the majority of the population of British Columbia.”
Lawyers will return to court in July to set a new date for Manuel’s preliminary inquiry.