A judge ordered sheriffs to take Jonathan David (Dave) Meer's daughter into custody on Wednesday after she interrupted her father's sentencing with a profanity-laden outburst.
Justice Brian Burrows of the Court of Queen's Bench was sentencing Meer to 15 years Wednesday for terrorizing his former business associates in and around Edmonton in 2007.
Meer, 48, masterminded a wave of violence and intimidation — including arsons, telephone threats, Molotov cocktails and paintball gun shootings — against four former business associates, using his son and his son's friends as "foot soldiers" to carry out the acts of violence.
The married father of three was a millionaire until money troubles and a string of lawsuits made him desperate, court heard.
Calls judge a disgrace
As Burrows neared the end of his ruling, Meer was seen to gesture with his hand. At that point, his daughter Ashley Meer, 25, stood up and told the judge she had something to say.
When Burrows cut her off, she yelled profanities at him and called him a disgrace to the justice system.
"I think you are on f------ drugs," she screamed. "Arson is not a serious crime."
Burrows told her she was in contempt, which resulted in applause from Meer's victims in the courtroom.
After more profanity, the woman stormed out of the courtroom. Burrows ordered a sheriff to follow and take her into custody.
Meer's wife, Loreena, 45, then stood up and directed her own stream of profanities at the victims before leaving the courtroom. Burrows sent a second sheriff after her.
Meer's daughter apologizes
Later in the day Ashley Meer was brought before Burrows.
"The decision I made I understand is very difficult for you," he told her. "I understand you are upset with my decision and you have that right."
But, he said, he could not permit her to disrespect the court.
Meer began crying and apologized.
"It's been so hard on my family," she told Burrows. "I'm so sorry I disrespected you and the court. I know I was completely out of line."
Burrows accepted her apology and let her go.
Outside of court, Crown prosecutor Brian Holtby said he has never seen a similar outburst.
"It’s extremely unusual for someone to have an outburst like that and to be that profane while they’re doing it," he said.
"This whole trial has been about respect for the law and the rule of law and this is just one more example a lack of respect for the law."
During sentencing Burrows likened Meer's actions to terrorism.
Meer was convicted Dec. 3 on nine charges — two counts each of arson and extortion, four conspiracy offences and one count of obstruction of justice.
Burrows noted that one of Meer's victims was home at the time of a firebombing ordered by Meer. It was only the quick actions of the victim that prevented any lives being lost, he said.
He also noted the firebombings damaged neighbouring properties.
Meer received 5½ years credit for time already served.
His son Chris Meer, 26, is still at large. Police believe he may have fled to Mexico or the United States.