Thursday, August 5, 2010
Accused killer was out on bail, sought by police
A Winnipeg woman accused of a violent weekend rampage that left one man dead and another person seriously injured has a long history with the criminal justice system.
Mary Ellen Thomas was let out of jail just last month -- despite objections from the Crown, who noted her extensive record -- and was wanted on arrest warrants at the time of the attacks for allegedly breaching her conditions within days of release.
Thomas, 30, was arrested July 31 and charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault. The single mother of a young child is accused of killing 62-year-old Michael Allan inside his Nassau Street South home, then randomly stabbing an 18-year-old girl at a nearby convenience store.
None of the allegations has been proven and she is presumed innocent.
Court documents obtained by the Free Press show Thomas was previously arrested on July 20 after allegedly using a shovel to smash a truck that belonged to a British Columbia man she'd recently met online. She spent three nights behind bars until provincial court Judge Mary Curtis agreed to free her on bail.
The Crown fought to keep her locked up, noting she had more than two dozen prior convictions for crimes spanning nearly 15 years including prostitution, theft, assault and breaching court orders. Thomas also had her statutory release from prison revoked in 2008 for violating terms of her release. The Crown noted there is a common theme to many of Thomas' prior offences -- they involve meeting men, consuming large amounts of alcohol and then turning violent.
"I've changed a lot," Thomas pleaded with the judge during her July 23 bail hearing.
"When I look at your record, the inclination is to say nothing's changed," Curtis replied. "But, in this particular set of circumstances, I am going to authorize your release."
Curtis ordered Thomas to abide by conditions including an order to abstain from alcohol and observe a nightly curfew. However, a warrant was issued for her arrest on July 28 after she allegedly failed to report to bail supervision. It wouldn't be executed until police arrested her inside Allan's home three days later.
Parole board documents show Thomas was diagnosed in 2006 as a schizophrenic prone to hallucinations and paranoia. There were also concerns about alcohol and crack cocaine use.
Allan's family told the Free Press this week he was a lonely, sick alcoholic who was allegedly killed by a woman he'd met earlier that night and agreed to bring home for drinks after purchasing beer from a vendor. They also believe Allan was targeted for his bank card. Mervin Forbister, the victim's brother-in-law, said Allan was a well-educated man who recently came back to Winnipeg from Saskatoon so his family could help care for him as he grappled with a lung disease wracking his 6'2, 112-pound body.
Forbister questioned how the accused killer was not in jail when the attack occurred.
"If I have any gripe, it's with the justice system," he said.