A guilty verdict has been handed down in what a provincial court judge has dubbed “the feud in Coalmont.” He said he hopes it will mark the end of legal problems in the tiny village.
Marianna Gatzke was sentenced to 30 months of strict probation after being found guilty of two counts of mischief Thursday in Princeton Court.
“People out there need to know this is done,” Judge Gale Sinclair said while handing down the sentence.
Gatzke’s conviction follows disturbing and escalating events that took place between April 2011 and May 2013.
During that time Gatzke would grind metal late at night in her yard while yelling profanities, court heard.
Several witnesses testified that during those two years they were often awakened late at night by the sound of Gatzke throwing wood against metal of some kind.
During Thursday’s testimony neighbour Neil Anderson, a retired teacher and now part-time library employee, said he stopped walking by Gatzke’s house several years ago because of signage on the property.
“Things started appearing, signs. They said ‘murder,’ ‘split the guts.’ I stopped walking over there,” he said.
During that time period Gatzke also played the words ‘murder, murder, murder’ through speakers in her yard loudly enough for her neighbours to hear. She directed floodlights in the yards of some of her neighbours while they were outside and pointed car headlights into houses, testimony revealed.
During the trial one neighbour stated: “I lay awake wondering why she does this to us,” Judge Sinclair recalled during his sentencing.
“You should be ashamed of your actions,” he said.
Gatzke represented herself throughout the five-day trial, which lasted longer than some murder trials. Sinclair said he gave Gatzke more leeway than he would a lawyer because she didn’t know all the proper procedures.
“I gave Miss Gatzke considerable leeway in this case as I do anyone self representing. That’s why this took longer,” he said.
Gatzke’s defence centred around her neighbours and the RCMP conspiring against her. She said neighbours also made noise while building houses, and cutting down trees.
Following the verdict, Gatzke did not accept responsibility for her actions.
“I haven’t done this so I don’t know what to say. I think it is very biased,” Gatzke said before the judge deliberated on sentencing.
As part of her probation order Gatzke cannot have direct or indirect contact with many of her neighbours. She must refrain from making noise, audible to her neighbours, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and she cannot direct lights to her neighbours’ properties. During daylight hours she cannot make unusual, disruptive or loud noises.