Friends and family members of Murray Simmons spoke with police outside the Princeton courthouse Friday.

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

A Princeton woman who forged her signature to her late husband’s will was sentenced Friday morning in Princeton court to a six-month conditional sentence.

Odelle Simmons will serve three months under house arrest, at her home in Merritt, followed by three months of house curfew.

The disposition was met with shocked expressions, and some tears, from friends and family members of Murray Simmons, who died suddenly in 2012.

“I’m certainly disappointed, that’s for sure,” said Debbie Williams, who was previously married to Simmons for 32 years.

Their daughter Deanna Deleume appeared shaken outside the courtroom following the hearing.

Surrounded by more than a dozen supporters she declined to comment on the sentence, but did confirm that civil claims against her former stepmother will now proceed.

Judge Michelle Daneliuk took approximately 35 minutes to read her decision, taking the court through both the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the crime, as well as applicable case law.

At an original sentencing hearing in Penticton, last October, the Crown sought a three-month jail sentence followed by 18 months probation, while the defense argued for a three-month conditional sentence plus nine months probation.

The court heard Friday that following the death of Murray Simmons, his wife Odelle came across a previously drafted but unsigned will making her the beneficiary of his estate.

After signing the will in what Daneliuk called “a relatively unsophisticated” manner, Simmons had her own mother and Murray’s sister, Kathy Cranston, witness the forged testament.

The deception went unsuspected for more than two years. When the dead man’s children saw the document they believed it was a fake. They contacted the RCMP and hired a handwriting expert to support their findings.

Daneliuk placed importance on the fact that Simmons pleaded guilty and did not benefit from her misdeed.

The estate was “modest,” she said, and encumbered by considerable debt. A home with a shared title, a life insurance policy and a pension were outside of the will.

If Simmons had not forged the will she would have inherited the estate by default.

“She gained nothing for her deceit … Ms. Simmons is actually worse off.”

The judge said many people from the community — particularly members of Living Water Four Square Church — supplied letters of reference to Simmons’ character. They described her as “generous, compassionate, hard working, kind … and a dedicated mother.”

In 2002 Simmons was convicted of theft under $5,000 after she stole approximately $4,200 from her employer. However Daneliuk said it was important to note that otherwise Simmons has not fallen afoul of the law.

“Ms. Simmons has the strong support of her immediate family. She also bears sole responsibility for the care of her 13-year-old daughter. “

In addressing the seriousness of the offense Daneliuk said Simmons’ actions were prolonged over a period of time and involved the recruitment of her mother and sister-in-law.

Daneliuk said Simmons’ crime undermined the “sanctity of solicitor-client relations” as the forged will was presented to her lawyer for action.

She said while parts of the submitted victim impact statements were eventually edited for “inaccuracies and irrelevancies” she acknowledged the grief experienced by Murray Simmons’ children.

“Mr. Simmons was a highly regarded member of this community and much loved by his family and friends.”

The conditional sentence includes three months house arrest, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Simmons can leave her home only with written permission of the court, requiring extreme circumstances. She may also leave in cases of medical emergency involving herself or her daughter. For the balance of the sentence Simmons will be subject to a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.

She must abstain from drugs and alcohol and pay a $200 victim surcharge.

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

Like us on Facebook.

Just Posted

Stand for Water calls for better mining regulation and practices

Jacinda Mack hopes others will be inspired to take action

Farmers Market sees successful start to season

More vendors expected as veggies and fruit start to ripen

Gallery: Kid’s Bike Parade

Williams Lake bicycle festival carries into the weekend

Bicycle Festival pedals into Williams Lake

Plenty of activities - for bicyclers and non-bicyclers - through weekend

Tsilhqot’in community names officially recognized by Province

Tsilhqot’in names will now appear on provincial government resources, maps and databases

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

UPDATED: More than half of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read