It was an emotional scene on the stairs leading into the Campbell River courthouse as the Kayla John murder trial came to a close nearly seven years ago.
There, surrounded by family and friends from the Ehattesaht Indian Band of Zeballos, was Colleen John, the mother of the 13-year-old girl who was raped, beaten and strangled by 22-year-old George Osmond who is now serving a life sentence.
The mother of three was distraught as she wept while others spoke on her behalf.
“I can feel Kayla’s spirit working amongst us already – it is a sad occasion but it has brought us together as a family,” said Kayla’s grandfather, Earl Smith, a hereditary chief.
That was in December 2005. On May 7, 2012, Colleen John was back at the same courthouse, this time facing charges of theft.
She was also there to see her husband, Glen Francis, who was charged with assaulting her on April 13.
“It’s not like I’m afraid of Glen at all,” John told provincial court Judge Brian Saunderson. “I want to be able to have contact (with Francis).”
Francis, 25, is just a bit older than John’s two children (from another relationship) who are 21 and 24. The couple has been together three years now and were married last September in spite of a court order placed on Francis to have no contact with John.
According to Crown prosecutor Adrienne Venturini, the couple is well-known to Campbell River RCMP who have some fears about John’s safety. Francis’ lawyer, Jordan Watt, acknowledged the couple has trouble with alcohol, but are prepared to go to rehab and take counselling together.
The two were together, downtown near the Scotia Bank, on the afternoon of April 13. Witnesses told police they thought the two were play fighting, but that changed when Francis pushed John to the ground.
The two were eventually found by Mounties, still together, several hours later. John was suffering from some lower back pain, due to the push and fall, but she was unco-operative with officers.
Francis was taken into custody on April 14, and held in cells in Victoria after being denied bail.
On May 7, he appeared by video in Campbell River provincial court and pleaded guilty to spousal assault. Venturini told the court that Francis has had nearly 100 contacts with police and has a three-page criminal record that includes 17 convictions for breaching court orders.
Judge Saunderson described it as a “dreadful record” as he sentenced Francis to serve 66 more days in jail, to be followed by one year of probation. The judge, however, declined to impose a no-contact order to prevent Francis from being with John.
“She and he…want to continue their relationship,” he noted.
John seemed relieved as the judge sentenced her husband. Earlier in the day, she had pleaded guilty to two counts of theft under $5,000.
On June 25, 2011, she stole from the Reitman’s clothing shop. Two days later, she shoplifted from Walmart.
John was given a suspended sentence and placed on nine months of probation. She was also ordered not to go to the two businesses she stole from.
And this wasn’t her first encounter with the law.
In 2000 she was found guilty of assault and received 12 months probation; in 2003, she was guilty of another assault and received a six-month conditional discharge; in September 2009, she was placed on nine months of probation for theft under $5,000; and in December 2009, she was pleaded guilty to failing to appear in court and was fined $100.