Edmonton

Edmonton woman convicted of stalking seeks bail, leave to appeal

After spending less than three weeks behind bars for criminal harassment, an Edmonton woman has asked Alberta's highest court to grant her bail while she seeks leave to appeal her 12-month sentence. 

Amanda Wowk has been behind bars since Jan. 3

Amanda Mae Wowk, 23, was sentenced to one year in jail for harassment and fraudulent personation. (Amanda Wowk/Twitter)

After spending less than three weeks behind bars for criminal harassment, an Edmonton woman has asked Alberta's highest court to grant her bail while she seeks leave to appeal her sentence. 

Amanda Wowk was convicted last month of criminal harassment and impersonating a police officer and sentenced to 12 months in a provincial jail, to be followed by two years of probation. 

The judge allowed her to remain free until Jan. 3, so she could write university exams and spend the holidays with her family. Wowk turned herself in at the Edmonton Remand Centre at the beginning of the month.

In a document filed with the Court of Appeal of Alberta, defence lawyer Kathryn Quinlan said the judge made legal errors in imposing a one-year sentence, which she called "unfit." She said she will ask the appeal judges to impose a sentence "of a noncustodial nature."

The court document noted that Wowk has one term left to complete at NAIT for a business administration degree. 

"If she is forced to remain in custody pending appeal, she will not graduate from that program as scheduled, which will significantly impede her future prospects," the document said. 

In its memorandum, the Crown characterized the grounds raised in seeking leave to appeal as weak, arguing they "do not contain sufficient merit to demonstrate that her detention would cause unnecessary hardship." 

The Crown called the sentence imposed "fit" and suggested it's "on the lower end considering the number of aggravating factors present." 

The appeal court has reserved decision.

Wowk, 23, remains behind bars.

She has admitted that between December 2016 and May 2017 she engaged in an anonymous and extreme harassment campaign against a man and his wife who considered her to be a friend. The identities of the victims are protected by a court-ordered publication ban. 

Using automated phone calls and anonymous email accounts, Wowk suggested her friend was cheating on his wife. The husband received at least 169 harassing, vulgar emails from 15 different email accounts with user names like cheaters.anonymous and horriblemarriages. 

The husband considered suicide after being targeted by what Court of Queen's Bench Justice Stephen Hillier described as "cruel and manipulative communications."

Wowk also admitted she tried to derail the police investigation by impersonating an officer. 

In his sentencing decision, the judge noted Wowk's lack of remorse and insight into her crimes, which she called "the greatest mistake of my life."

She was assessed by a psychologist hired by the defence, who determined Wowk was not experiencing marked distress and saw little need for changes in her behaviour.

Wowk was rated as a low risk to re-offend.

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston