Friends and family members of Murray Simmons spoke with police outside the Princeton courthouse Friday.

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

A Princeton woman who forged her signature to her late husband’s will was sentenced Friday morning in Princeton court to a six-month conditional sentence.

Odelle Simmons will serve three months under house arrest, at her home in Merritt, followed by three months of house curfew.

The disposition was met with shocked expressions, and some tears, from friends and family members of Murray Simmons, who died suddenly in 2012.

“I’m certainly disappointed, that’s for sure,” said Debbie Williams, who was previously married to Simmons for 32 years.

Their daughter Deanna Deleume appeared shaken outside the courtroom following the hearing.

Surrounded by more than a dozen supporters she declined to comment on the sentence, but did confirm that civil claims against her former stepmother will now proceed.

Judge Michelle Daneliuk took approximately 35 minutes to read her decision, taking the court through both the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the crime, as well as applicable case law.

At an original sentencing hearing in Penticton, last October, the Crown sought a three-month jail sentence followed by 18 months probation, while the defense argued for a three-month conditional sentence plus nine months probation.

The court heard Friday that following the death of Murray Simmons, his wife Odelle came across a previously drafted but unsigned will making her the beneficiary of his estate.

After signing the will in what Daneliuk called “a relatively unsophisticated” manner, Simmons had her own mother and Murray’s sister, Kathy Cranston, witness the forged testament.

The deception went unsuspected for more than two years. When the dead man’s children saw the document they believed it was a fake. They contacted the RCMP and hired a handwriting expert to support their findings.

Daneliuk placed importance on the fact that Simmons pleaded guilty and did not benefit from her misdeed.

The estate was “modest,” she said, and encumbered by considerable debt. A home with a shared title, a life insurance policy and a pension were outside of the will.

If Simmons had not forged the will she would have inherited the estate by default.

“She gained nothing for her deceit … Ms. Simmons is actually worse off.”

The judge said many people from the community — particularly members of Living Water Four Square Church — supplied letters of reference to Simmons’ character. They described her as “generous, compassionate, hard working, kind … and a dedicated mother.”

In 2002 Simmons was convicted of theft under $5,000 after she stole approximately $4,200 from her employer. However Daneliuk said it was important to note that otherwise Simmons has not fallen afoul of the law.

“Ms. Simmons has the strong support of her immediate family. She also bears sole responsibility for the care of her 13-year-old daughter. “

In addressing the seriousness of the offense Daneliuk said Simmons’ actions were prolonged over a period of time and involved the recruitment of her mother and sister-in-law.

Daneliuk said Simmons’ crime undermined the “sanctity of solicitor-client relations” as the forged will was presented to her lawyer for action.

She said while parts of the submitted victim impact statements were eventually edited for “inaccuracies and irrelevancies” she acknowledged the grief experienced by Murray Simmons’ children.

“Mr. Simmons was a highly regarded member of this community and much loved by his family and friends.”

The conditional sentence includes three months house arrest, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Simmons can leave her home only with written permission of the court, requiring extreme circumstances. She may also leave in cases of medical emergency involving herself or her daughter. For the balance of the sentence Simmons will be subject to a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.

She must abstain from drugs and alcohol and pay a $200 victim surcharge.

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

Like us on Facebook.

Just Posted

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Uchucklesaht Tribe purchases former Redford School

Property will be a “multi-use building” similar to The Thunderbird

Merry Makers create new craft fair for Port Alberni

Hansen Hall fair begins as Work of Heart organizers retire

Port Alberni highland dancers invited to North American competition

Kali Nahorney received honourable mention medals in two categories

VIDEO: People with diabetes meet their alert dogs

A diabetic alert dog is trained to detect low blood sugar in people who have Type 1 diabetes

Hunter who saved B.C. man pinned inside smashed truck says ‘God was sending me to him’

Sayward man describes chance discovery of Duncan Moffat, 23, in northern Vancouver Island woods

Road-weary Canucks thumped 6-2 by Wild

Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin removed and preserved

The skin was removed in honour of the well known artist’s work

North Cowichan is Canada’s hot spot on Wednesday

The Warmland lives up to its name

B.C. Realtor suspended after helping intern forge note about sick grandma

Vancouver real estate agent Jaideep Singh Puri has to pay fine, take ethics course

Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Most Read