Shania Twain stalker's competency doubted again

An Ontario judge wants to hear from the doctor behind a psychiatric evaluation of an Ottawa man who has admitted to stalking country-pop superstar Shania Twain, further delaying a possible sentencing.
John Palumbo interrupted Shania Twain's testimony on Sept. 29 to announce he would plead guilty. (Natalie Berman/CBC)

An Ontario judge wants to hear from the doctor behind a psychiatric evaluation of an Ottawa man who has admitted to stalking country-pop superstar Shania Twain, further delaying a possible sentencing.

The assessment conducted on Giovanni (John) Palumbo — a former doctor —at an Ottawa hospital was presented in court on Tuesday. It found that mental illness was not an issue and that he could be found criminally responsible for his actions. The report also said he's now got the message Twain doesn't want to have contact with him and understands the situation.

But prosecutor John Flaherty questioned the report, saying he's not sure if Palumbo can be found criminally responsible.The defence was satisfied with the current assessment, but Justice Richard Schneider has asked the author of the report, Dr. Helen Ward, to appear as a witness.

Schneider said he won't rule out a second opinion on Palumbo's mental state.

"You can trust me there's no way I would breach anything or try to disturb her. I still think she's a wonderful person and we do not want to disturb her," Palumbo told Schneider in a Toronto courtroom Tuesday. He was being questioned by lawyers ahead of sentencing.

Palumbo described the jail conditions, asking Schneider to "imagine being an intellectual such as yourself and being put in [uncomfortable situations]."

He said he was put in a cramped environment and in close quarters with roommates he described as sexual deviants who "sit there and lie there and stare at you."

Palumbo is set to have a bail hearing Wednesday, which may set him free until the sentencing hearing can be resumed.

Palumbo submitted surprise guilty pleas on Sept. 30, the second day of his trial, to a charge of criminal harassment and to breaching a court order.

Palumbo, 51, was jailed on March 27 after he was arrested at Toronto's Air Canada Centre during an appearance by Twain at the Juno Awards. He was charged with criminal harassment and has been held in custody since — a total of six and half months.

Defence lawyer Gary Barnes had asked that he be given credit for time served and then released. The prosecution requested a conditional sentence of five months and probation.

Palumbo admitted his guilt during an outburst in court on the first day of his trial.  As Twain testified via video link that day, he rose from the prisoner's box and shouted her real name.

"Eileen, you can trust me. I'm going to plead guilty," he blurted out.

Palumbo's ex-wife, Christel Palumbo, told Postmedia News her ex-husband had created a "shrine" for Twain in his Ottawa home following their separation, and that she discovered 30 CDs filled with images of Twain, along with videotapes documenting Twain's various televised appearances.

Twain testified she had received letters from Palumbo in 2009 in which he professed his love for her. She said that she often received such correspondence from small children, but not adult men, and grew nervous upon receipt of the letters.