Get a handle on what’s dangerous

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Unattached gentlemen of a certain age might want to look for an advance 2016 calendar and circle March. That’s when Melissa Shepard is due out of prison and, as her sentencing judge suggests, people around her should be careful.

Then again, the woman popularly referred to as the Black Widow could move or change her name to avoid attention.

Shepard was sentenced to a maximum 3 ½ years Tuesday in Sydney, minus time already served, after pleading guilty to administering a noxious substance to the New Glasgow man she had married just days earlier.

Many will consider that light punishment considering the woman’s past, the pattern of linking up with elderly men to capitalize on their money and, in fact, having been convicted in 1992 of manslaughter in the death of a husband.

The charge of attempted murder was dropped Monday, with the Crown explaining it would be difficult to prove intent. Although we can speculate what Shepard was up to, speculation doesn’t get a conviction in court.

At the very least, the judge was able to use details of her past to hand down the maximum sentence, which is some consolation.

But many will ask why the status of dangerous offender wouldn’t apply under such circumstances. Felons who have exhibited a pattern of frequent assaults on victims or sexual depravity have been locked up indefinitely because of a deemed high likelihood they’ll reoffend. Someone with a lengthy record that includes manslaughter, then found guilty of administering a potentially fatal substance, certainly comes across as a person of high risk.

Provisions for designating an offender as dangerous should perhaps cast a wider net. We have a federal government that professes its toughness on crime; this would be an area to examine.

At the very least after these couple of years behind bars, one would hope to see parole conditions so stringent that such an individual would have little opportunity of getting another hapless victim in her clutches.

Geographic location: Sydney, New Glasgow

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Recent comments

  • Dorothy Parker
    June 13, 2013 - 10:44

    I have been following this story for some time and although I am pleased to see that she got some time in prison, I feel she should have gotten a much longer sentence. I realize that she is getting up there in years but she sure didn't have any compassion for her victims and I know that one can say , they should have known better but when you are lonely and a smooth talker comes along, it would probably be easy to be blindsided.I hope she never gets the opportunity to reoffend.People like her are a blight on society .

  • johnny smoke
    June 12, 2013 - 12:34

    I think hat some time in the slammer would also be in order for anyone gullible to be taken in by an obvious scam artist. If I read this right they only knew one another for a very short period of time,at their ages what is the rush? They do not rush while doing anything else, and I can vouch for that by personal experience

  • noodle
    June 12, 2013 - 08:04

    The old saying, "practice makes perfect" comes to mind which is why it's often harder to convict on subsequent crimes. The criminal is perfecting their craft and learning from past experience how to hide evidence. This, to me, creates an unfair advantage for the criminal that makes it relevant and necessary to be able to hear about past convictions during trials on indictable offenses.

  • Bob in N.S.
    June 11, 2013 - 22:01

    Shame on the Crown,shame on the judge and shame on the entire judicial system' where a low life such as Shepard was handed a sentence more in line with stealing a loaf of bread. The entire sideshow is reminiscent of a society where good people are fodder for criminals aided by a week kneed system. What in the name of decency is wrong with us?Change is needed!