A Calgary woman who was in Banff to celebrate her 19th birthday pleaded guilty to obstructing RCMP from arresting one of her friends involved in a fight.
Vanessa Wagner entered the guilty plea to the single charge of obstruct or resist RCMP last week in Canmore Provincial Court.
But her efforts to prevent her male friend from being arrested, according to defence counsel Dale Fedorchuk, were because he did not start the altercation.
Fedorchuk said the fight was instigated by members of the Calgary Stampeders football club in the McDonalds on Banff Avenue.
Fedorchuk said one of the footballers, who had been at the Aurora Nightclub previously, accused Wagner’s friend of flirting with his girlfriend at the bar when the fight began.
“All Ms. Wagner was trying to do is point out to the police the other individuals were responsible for the fight,” he said. “That was her only motivation. Did she appropriately approach the situation? No, she didn’t.”
Fedorchuk asked for a conditional discharge as Wagner has no criminal record.
Crown prosecutor Deven Singhal argued against a discharge for Wagner because her actions were against a police officer.
Judge John Reilly expressed concern for the accused’s use of alcohol, but granted the discharge in the end.
“My concern is for your use of alcohol,” he said. “Obviously, it is interfering with your judgment if you are attacking football players and police officers.
“But I do not think getting out of control on your 19th birthday should result in a criminal record.”
The discharge, said the judge, was conditional on six months’ probation, assessment, treatment and counselling as directed and to abstain absolutely from consuming alcohol.
Singhal said Banff RCMP received a call to attend a fight in progress between two groups in front of the fast food outlet on Sept. 19, 2010 at 2:30 a.m.
Investigating officers identified Wagner’s friend Daniel Ball, who was arrested and charged with causing a disturbance and obstruct/resist.
Singhal said Wagner was walking with Ball and attempted to stop constables from speaking with him as he ran from them.
After officers apprehended Ball, the Crown said Wagner grabbed one of the officers from behind by his jacket.
“She was advised she was under arrest for obstruction and she began fighting to get away,” Singhal said. “Despite Ms. Wagner struggling the entire time, she was put in the back of a police car.”
Ball pleaded not guilty to his charges and set a trial date for Jan. 16, 2012.