Daughter of woman paralyzed in random CTrain attack 'not impressed' with sentence

Charmaine Newman and her family are trying to move forward after a 4½-year sentence was handed to the woman who paralyzed her mother by pushing her onto light-rail transit tracks in a random attack.

Rozalia Meichl, 64, was paralyzed after woman pushed her into a train unprovoked last fall

Rozalia Meichl has been receiving treatment since getting shoved off a Calgary LRT platform in November, landing on her back and neck. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Charmaine Newman and her family are trying to move forward after a 4½-year sentence was handed to the woman who paralyzed her mother by pushing her onto light-rail transit tracks in a random attack.

Stephanie Favel pushed Newman's mother, Rozalia Meichl, 64, onto the CTrain tracks at the Victoria Park/Stampede station in Calgary in November 2018.

Video surveillance showed Favel, who was angry, drunk and high on crystal meth, shove Meichl in front of the train. 

Meichl landed on her back and neck, fracturing her spine. She will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Favel, 35, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault, and was sentenced Wednesday.

The judge noted Favel is a "classic victim of trans-generational abuse, having been the victim of sexual abuse and growing up in foster care." The need for deterrence and protection of safe public transit outweighed those circumstances, the judge said.

Charmaine Newman joined Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray to discuss the sentence of her mother's attacker, as well as her family's future. Here is a condensed version of that interview, edited for length and clarity.

Rozalia Meichl will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. (Michael O'Halloran/CBC)

Q: Can you tell me how you feel about the sentence?

A: I'm not impressed with the sentence but legally the Crown and the judge, whose hands are tied, there's only so much they can do with the law.

Q: You say you're not impressed by it. What would have been better in your mind?

A: Nothing. Whether she got four years or 40 years, it's not going to take back what she did. Our lives have been changed forever.

Q: How's your mom doing?

A: Well. She's well.

Q: Are you satisfied? I don't know if that's the right word in this context. I don't know if anything would be satisfying and I appreciate that point you made but at least satisfied with how the whole legal process played out?

A: Yes, it was fast, it was quick. Maybe not as quick as I would like it to have been but there was no real delays that we had to overcome. And shout out to the Crown because he was amazing.

Q: What did you learn through this whole process about the person who pushed your mom on the tracks?

A: I get it that she's had a crappy life. But at the same time, there are millions of people that have had tainted childhoods and they don't go around pushing strangers off of platforms or buildings or whatever have you.

Stephanie Favel pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. (Stephanie Favel/Facebook)

I don't feel like that's a good reason. No reason is a good reason but using that as her defence was not acceptable.

Q: I only ask that because I can imagine in your own mind and in your mom's, too, sure the dominant question is why? Why would anybody do this? Did you get any closer to to an answer to that?

A: There has never been a "why" answered. She's never answered that question. In the statement of facts and in her apology, she doesn't remember. So I guess we'll never know why.

Q: So how do you move on from this point? Have you got that figured out?

A: We're going to flip the page in this book. Moving on, you know, we can't change what's happened but going forward we can advocate on the whole war on drugs that's happening in the city. It's overwhelming to see what's going on, especially within the core.

Q: Your mom wasn't in court. I understand it's been a difficult process for her but she actually watched the surveillance video for the first time last week. Was that against your advice?

A: No, I've never actually discussed her watching the video with her. But that would have totally been up to her. It's a hard video to watch. Hard, hard video to watch.

I mean, there's 45 minutes of video to watch, and believe me, when everybody talks about the description, that 45 minutes plays in my head.

Q: Does the end of the legal process, and this is the end, does that at least give you a reason to try to do what you can to put this behind you?

A: Oh, absolutely. I got closure yesterday. It just felt like that elephant on my chest moved on and I'm going to move forward and try to speak out about this methamphetamine problem and make people realize how how many lives are being ruined — innocent lives are being ruined over this.

Q: Did your mom have any warning? Was she aware of this individual on the platform or did this completely come out of the blue?

A: She [Favel] was panhandling at the top of the top of the stairs, and my mom refused to give her anything. And she has seen her before at that station panhandling, so she was aware she was a problem, which she just went about her business. You know, just say no and move on. And apparently Stephanie didn't let it go that day.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener