Edmonton

'He knows where we are': Leduc woman fearful after crowbar attacker granted bail

When Jared Eliasson was released on bail last week after being found guilty of attacking a woman with a crowbar, Samantha Massey said she was worried for her and her family’s safety.

Massey successfully sought restraining order against Jared Eliasson in 2017, unrelated to crowbar conviction

Jared Eliasson was found guilty of aggravated assault after breaking a woman's arm with a crowbar in an early morning road-rage attack. (Janice Johnston/CBC )

When Jared Eliasson was released on bail last week after being found guilty of attacking a woman with a crowbar, Samantha Massey said she was worried for her and her family's safety.

Massey, her parents and her husband successfully sought a restraining order against Eliasson in 2017 — after he was charged in relation to the crowbar attack — out of concern he would be released on bail.

Massey, in an affidavit, alleged Eliasson targeted her family with death threats and vandalism, unrelated to the 2017 attack. The incidents have been reported to police, but no charges have been laid, and none of the allegations in the affidavit have been proven in court.

But Massey is still grappling with fear and anxiety now that Eliasson, her husband's friend from university, is out on bail ahead of his sentencing hearing in July. Eliasson should have been taken into custody, Massey said.

"We're worried. Someone who attacks a stranger is obviously not — we don't feel — is not a stable person. We don't feel they should be allowed to interact with the public. It's not safe for the public," Massey said in an interview with CBC News on Sunday.

"He knows where my parents are, he knows where we are. That's the concern. Hopefully nothing comes of that concern, but it's hard to fight that concern."

Eliasson was found guilty of aggravated assault Friday in relation to a road-rage incident turned violent in March 2017. Chelsey Schendzielorz said Eliasson hit her twice with a crowbar, breaking both her arms, after she honked at him for blocking an intersection.

Edmonton police say they have arrested the driver of this car who attacked a woman with a crowbar, breaking both of her arms. (Edmonton Police Service)

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Adam Germain also found Eliasson guilty of possession of a dangerous weapon and mischief. Germain found Eliasson not guilty of attempted murder.

Bail conditions allegedly breached

Eliasson is facing allegations of breaking bail conditions while on house arrest last June, according to court records. He is charged with four counts of breaching his recognizance: three for failing to answer the door or phone calls from the authorities, and another for failing to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Eliasson's next court appearance on those charges is April 23.

Any breach of recognizance is significant, said criminal defence lawyer Dino Bottos, but he said the charges appeared to be less serious than others, such as contacting the victim or committing another violent crime.

Bottos said a judge has to balance concerns raised by the possibility of granting bail, with the strong interest to only deny someone's liberty when it's "absolutely necessary."

"The currency of punishment in our system of justice is the loss of liberty, by and large. We're supposed to lose our liberty only after conviction and only after a sentence is imposed. It's not the other way around where we're supposed to be incarcerated as a presumption and only let go when there's an exception," he said.

"It's not absolutely necessary to take it away prior to an appropriate sentence being crafted for Mr. Eliasson."

But Massey said it was "really upsetting" to know Eliasson was back on house arrest, after learning he has allegedly breached his bail conditions, and given what she said her family has endured in the past.

The prosecution challenged the request for bail in court Friday, arguing Eliasson was a proven public safety risk.

Justice Germain had cautionary words for Eliasson after granting the bail request.

"I sure hope you don't disappointment me. Because, if you do, I'll be speaking to you again."

With files from Janice Johnston