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'Not tasting one day of real jail': Criminal defence lawyer calls Dawn Walker sentence 'very, very light'


The jail sentence for a Saskatoon woman who abducted her son and staged their disappearance is “very, very light,” according to criminal defence lawyer Ari Goldkind.

“This was not a one or two day momentary lapse of judgment. This was ongoing, very serious criminal activity that even took the time of volunteers conducting endless searches for a missing child. Just think that through — that's the stuff of an HBO or Netflix movie,” Goldkind told CTV News.

“And this is a person who's not tasting one day of real jail, but we have homeless people who steal sandwiches that go to jail for 30 days.”

Dawn Walker pleaded guilty to forging a passport, possessing a forged document and abduction in contravention of a custody order.

She was handed a 12-month conditional sentence, following 18 months of probation. A conditional sentence is served in the community, not behind bars.

“Now the Court of Appeal will say it's supposed to be akin to a jail sentence. It's not,” Goldkind said.

“Ask anybody you know, under the threat of a lie detector, whether serving a sentence at home — with your own kitchen, family, living room, Xbox — is the same as being in a real jail? Of course it’s not.”

Walker began forging fake identities three months after she entered into a shared-parenting arrangement with her son’s father.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Walker stole her friend’s identity to apply for a birth certificate and passport.

On July 24, 2022, Walker and her then-seven-year-old son were reported missing.

After a 13-day extensive search — that involved family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women — Walker and her son were found safe in an Airbnb in Oregon City.

According to an affidavit filed by the Department of Homeland Security, Walker made a checklist before fleeing to Oregon — which included dying her hair and covering her tattoo.

Judge Brad Mitchell accepted the joint-sentencing submission from the Crown and defence.

Prosecutor Tyla Olenchuk said Walker’s sentence “sends a message that the courts will not stand by and have people who are displeased or unhappy with how family law proceedings are going abscond with their children and take the law into their own hands.”

Why didn’t Dawn Walker go to trial?

Walker was scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 20.

CTV News asked Walker’s lawyer, Marie Henein, about the decision.

“I’m not going to discuss the case,” Henein replied.

“It’s obviously clear she loves her son very much and we’re happy to have this behind us.”

Goldkind said it’s not unusual for a person change their plea after trial dates are set.

“Despite Ms. Walker having a very well-known and well-regarded lawyer, the evidence against her was, in my view, insurmountable. This would have been a long slow walk to a guilty finding,” Goldkind said.

A guilty verdict would have likely come with a harsher sentence, according to Goldkind.

In the judge’s sentencing decision, Mitchell considered the guilty plea a mitigating factor.

“She’s shown remorse and has taken responsibility for her actions,” Mitchell said. Top Stories

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