Alleged threat puts Campbell River city staff on ‘high alert’
Extraordinary measures are in place to protect a longtime city employee after she received an alleged death threat.
For several months now, recreation program co-ordinator Linda Nagle has altered her daily habits, drives different rental cars, upgraded her home security, and security guards were hired for her workplace on the advice of the RCMP and senior city staff.
“On Sunday, November 18, (RCMP) showed up to say a threat had been made against my life…I was stunned,” Nagle testified in Campbell River provincial court.
Peter Vandermeer, 56, a man previously banned from the Sportsplex due to his unwanted affections for another woman, has been ordered to stay away from Nagle and some city-owned buildings. The Campbell River resident was originally charged with two counts of uttering threats and spent almost two months in custody after his arrest last November.
However, both charges were stayed by the Crown on Jan. 15, when he agreed to have no contact with Nagle, her family, and to stay 100 metres away from the Sportsplex where Nagle primarily works.
Vandermeer is no longer facing any criminal charges, but was back in court Wednesday when the Crown applied to increase his restrictions.
“I think this whole thing is a misunderstanding…I have not violated any conditions,” Vandermeer told the judge, testifying on his own behalf.
However, another veteran city staffer testified that Vandermeer’s behaviour is troubling.
“Staff are very concerned,” said Michelle Sirett, the city’s recreation supervisor. “They’re well aware he threatened Linda.”
It was about five years ago when Vandermeer first came to the attention of Sportsplex staff. He was attending a fitness class and had fixated his attention on ta woman who had no interest in him.
Vandermeer testified he would attend the class to watch her. He gave her gifts and would drive past her place of work.
“I wasn’t following her, I just wanted to see her car,” he said. “I didn’t want her to be scared of me…I still think about her a lot.”
However, Vandermeer realized he was “driving her crazy” when he had to enter into a peace bond to stay away from her. He was also banned from Sportsplex.
The alleged threat against Nagle was reported to authorities by Vandermeer’s psychologist. Police then told Nagle of the alleged threat and advised her to increase her personal security.
Changes were made to Nagle’s property, the city hired different rental cars so she could not be easily identified, she drove a different route to work every day, the city altered her work schedule to be at different places, and security was hired for the Sportsplex.
They’re all changes which unsettle her.
“The trouble is, I don’t know why Mr. Vandermeer wants to kill me. He wanted to grab me and smash my head against the ground, apparently,” she told the court.
The incident that brought Vandermeer back to court occurred Jan. 29. Nagle was driving to work at the Sportsplex when she spotted him standing on the sidewalk across the street from the entrance to Willow Point Park.
Another staffer then watched from a vehicle as Vandermeer stood and stared in the direction of the sports complex. He later testified he was just, “standing there having a little moment of memories.”
Nonetheless, Vandermeer thought the woman watching him from the car was Sirett and so he began walking from the Sportsplex to the downtown Community Centre where she works in order to “confirm it was her,” he said.
Video camera surveillance showed Vandermeer walking through the parking lot and peering into the windows of the community hall. He then entered the centre, apparently to get a bus schedule, where he was recognized by staff. Sirett was alerted and confronted Vandermeer who left the building and boarded a city bus. Vandermeer was self-represented at Wednesday’s hearing and questioned Sirett on how staff were able to recognize him.
“They were on high alert,” she replied.
Vandermeer was later questioned by Crown prosecutor Bruce Goddard who wondered why he thought Sirett was watching him and why he needed to confirm it was her?
“We don’t see eye to eye,” Vandermeer said of Sirett, and added he was concerned about what she would say after seeing him near the Sportsplex.
His behaviour led to the application to further limit his freedom in the community. Goddard asked that Vandermeer be prevented from entering Willow Point Park, Centennial Park and Outdoor Pool, the Community Centre and surrounding parking lot, the public works department on Dogwood Street, and city hall – all places where Nagle works.
Vandermeer opposed the new restrictions and said there was no reason for them. However, he also told the judge he never goes to Centennial Park or public works, and that the city had already banned him from the Sportsplex and the Community Centre.
The judge supported the Crown’s application, but said it would be inappropriate to ban him from city hall. Vandermeer is allowed to use the sidewalks that go past the off-limits locations as well as the bus stops by the Community Hall.