As the court clerk called for everyone to stand as the presiding judge entered the courtroom, Norman and Dorothy Desautels remained seated.
The Desautels were recently found by Judge Karl Bazin to be guilty of tax evasion, failing to pay more than $90,000 in income tax, as well as claiming a tax credit they weren’t entitled to. The charges are based on unreported income between 2004 and 2008.
The Alida couple was scheduled for a sentencing hearing during Estevan provincial court on April 26, but they failed to appear that morning. A warrant was issued and RCMP officers arrested the Desautels at their home, bringing them to the courthouse where they appeared before the judge later that day.
In their defence of not coming to court, Dorothy said that after their last court appearance, in which they were found guilty, the couple was thrown out of the jurisdiction.
Dorothy told the judge, “We were told not to return.”
During Thursday’s proceedings, Bazin told the Desautels they would get a chance to speak, but as is custom in a sentencing hearing, the Crown is permitted to argue first. Dorothy said they were told they would have a chance to speak at trial but never given an opportunity.
“We did not get a chance to speak. We were denied our due process of the law. Yes, we were. I do not accept your lies anymore. Who do you work for? Do you work for Queen Elizabeth II, or do you work for the corporation of London?” she asked Bazin.
Bazin said that if the defence did not wish to stop talking, he would allow them to speak to sentencing first. However, after Bazin felt the Desautels failed to comply with court decorum, the judge remanded them in custody overnight, and the proceedings continued on Friday.
From 2004 to 2008 Norman failed to claim $494,671.36 in income, evading paying $90,679.80 in federal taxes.
Crown prosecutor Glennys McVeigh noted that those figures represented only federal tax numbers because they were not prosecuting over provincial tax.
From 2004 to 2007 the couple collected child tax benefits of $8,869. They stopped receiving the credit after their children became too old for them to continue receiving the support.
McVeigh told the court that from 2005 to 2008, Norman failed to remit $6,373.63 in GST to the government that was earned through his well-servicing business.
McVeigh told Bazin the Canadian Revenue Agency has looked into the Desautels’ file from 2009 to 2011, and alleged the couple has not filed returns for those years either. Bazin said the CRA could proceed with further charges if they wish.
For these charges, the Crown is asking for a one-year jail term for Norman and a six-month term for Dorothy. They are also asking that a fine of 100 per cent of the evaded tax be paid. For Norman, that means $105,922.47 and for Dorothy $99,548.80.
McVeigh said the Desautels committed their crimes for reasons of personal greed.
“It was purely for personal lifestyle, so it was greed that this fraud was perpetrated,” she said.
McVeigh added that a further aggravating factor to these crimes is the Desautels’ treatment of the court system.
“Yesterday a document that is completely disrespectful is filed on their behalf. It asks the court and orders the court to quit bothering them, basically.”
As far as there being no victim, McVeigh said not paying taxes, and using government services is “the equivalent of stealing from one’s fellow citizens.”
Norman argued that because he follows the 10 commandments, he can commit no crime, and by loving his neighbour, his fellow citizens can’t be harmed by his actions.
McVeigh presented a victim impact statement by the CRA to the court and said all Canadians are victims when an individual doesn’t pay their taxes, particularly when that individual continues to benefit from infrastructure and programs those taxes would pay for.
The Desautels also denounced the media coverage their case has received, calling the trial and subsequent proceedings a “confidential and private” matter.
“It should be heard in private chambers,” said Dorothy. “This is not for the public to be published in the paper, because it’s a private and confidential matter. It is not a public matter.”
McVeigh noted that the Desautels have made applications to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a publication ban, but they have not been accepted.
Bazin seemed to believe their arguments were not very relevant to the sentencing and told them, “you’re wasting your opportunity. These are serious charges. The Crown is asking to put you in jail for a year.”
“What is it that you ask of us? Is it dollars?” Dorothy asked the judge. “Please define to me your definition of dollar.”
Bazin reserved judgment on both individuals to May 14, despite Dorothy’s objections to any further adjournment of her matters.
Because the Desautels had been arrested, and the Crown did not wish for them to be released, show-cause hearings were held Friday afternoon, resulting in both being remanded by Bazin. They will remain in jail until sentencing.