Spouse of Nunavut MLA Schell guilty of assaulting him
Ezevallu Qatsiya, 29, gets one year probation, one day of time served
The spousal partner of South Baffin MLA Fred Schell, 29-year-old Ezevallu Qatsiya, pleaded guilty Nov. 19 in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit to assaulting Schell in their Iqaluit home on April 10, 2012.
Following that incident, Schell and Qatsiya were charged with assaulting each other. At the time, Schell still served as a minister without portfolio in the Nunavut cabinet, a post that he resigned Nov. 5.
Qatsiya pleaded not guilty this past June 6, but changed her plea Nov. 19 in an appearance before the Nunavut Court of Justice, avoiding a scheduled trial.
The incident occurred early in the morning of April 10, at around 2:24 a.m., according to an agreed statement of facts read in court by Crown prosecutor Sarah Daigneault.
Qatsiya, who was drunk, began talking loudly on the phone, disturbing Schell, who had been asleep in bed.
Schell got up and argued loudly with Qatsiya. Eventually he grabbed Qatsiya’s bottle of liquor and poured it down the sink.
This angered Qatsiya, and she bit Schell on his bicep, causing a scar that is still visible. Schell pushed Qatsiya away from him.
Schell and Qatsiya have two children together, aged two and 18 months, both of whom were in the house at the time of the fight.
Crown and defense lawyers reached a joint sentencing recommendation for a one-year term probation for Qatsiya.
Justice Robert Kilpatrick agreed to that arrangement.
Kilpatrick added other conditions to her probation term, including to:
• serve one day in jail, time already served;
• keep the peace and be of good behaviour;
• report to a probation officer when required;
• have no contact with Schell or her two children while under the influence of alcohol;
• stay at least 50 metres from her home while under the influence of alcohol;
• get an alcohol assessment within the first four months of her probation period;
• submit a sample of her DNA;
• complete any anger management courses set by the probation officer; and,
• leave Schell’s presence when asked to by Schell or the police.
This is the third time that Qatsiya has assaulted Schell within the past five years, Daigneault said. The other incidents occurred in 2007 and 2009.
Because of this, Kilpatrick told Qatsiya she “came very close today” to being charged with an indictable offence.
“This one day is a signal to you Ms. Qatsiya,” Kilpatrick said, noting she served the sentence through her attendance at the courthouse all that day.
“If you’re back here again, there is a likelihood that you can expect the court’s position to be very different,” he said.
Qatsiya and Schell showed up together at the Nunavut Court of Justice to hear the matter.
But because of a delay in proceedings, the couple waited about six hours in a waiting room, side-by-side, until Qatsiya’s case could be dealt with.
Qatsiya, wearing a brown parka and with her hair in a bun, elected not to speak to the judge about her guilty plea before he passed sentence, and didn’t want Schell inside the courtroom during proceedings.
She walked briskly out of the courtroom after Kilpatrick read his sentence.
Schell also faces a charge of assault in the same April 10 incident.
That charge is to be spoken to Dec. 3, after both the Crown and defense review the Qatsiya sentence.
It’s not clear yet if the Crown will stay or withdraw the charge against Schell.