Wife of Liberal Senator Threatened to ‘slit his throat’ in Air Rage Incident, Court Hears
August 30, 2012
Liberal Senator Rod Zimmer did not feel threatened by his young wife’s actions on a airplane last week, Maygan Sensenberger’s defence lawyer said in court Wednesday, after the Crown alleged Sensenberger threatened to slit Zimmer’s throat.
Defence lawyer Leslie Sullivan told the Saskatoon court that Zimmer, who has attended his wife’s court proceedings, did not ask for charges to be laid against her.
Sensenberger, 23, has been charged with causing a disruption on an aircraft and uttering threats against her 69-year-old husband following an Air Canada flight, last week.
Sensenberger was initially charged with endangering an aircraft but that charge was dropped by the Crown Tuesday, while the uttering threats count was added.
“He does not feel he was threatened,” Sullivan said. “They are very close, and this is a very difficult time for them.
“It’s been very difficult for both of them not to be together.”
On Wednesday, Judge Albert Lavoie accepted a change in release conditions, worked out between the Crown and the defence, so that Sensenberger could contact Zimmer by phone, text or email while the case is before the courts.
Prosecutor Matt Miazga had argued against that condition saying passengers on the flight were frightened by Sensenberger’s behaviour.
He also said the Crown was “loathe” to drop the no-contact order because it is standard in domestic violence cases.
Miazga said “multiple” passengers on the flight overheard the argument between the couple.
One passenger told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that Sensenberger threatened to kill her husband.
“She was threatening to slit his throat and leave him. She kept saying she’d leave him. Everyone could hear it,” the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the newspaper.
The allegations have not been proved in court.
The woman said Sensenberger repeatedly told Zimmer she didn’t want to meet his family in Saskatoon. Previous reports said the couple were going to Saskatoon for the internment of the ashes of Zimmer’s mother, who died last year.
“He kept putting his hand on her arm to calm her down. She’d pull it away and yell that he was abusing her,” the passenger said.
“(Zimmer) wasn’t being aggressive toward her. He seemed embarrassed about the whole thing.”
The woman said when Sensenberger wouldn’t settle down, Zimmer said loudly to his wife, “Stop it or I’ll have a heart attack!”
The passenger says Sensenberger then began screaming for medical help, saying: “My husband’s dying.”
Scott Wright, a former ambulance attendant, said he volunteered when the crew asked for someone with medical experience to help Zimmer.
He said Sensenberger was emotionally distraught by her husband’s condition.
Wright said Zimmer was fine after he was given some oxygen, but Sensenberger was still upset and the couple were fighting with each other over Zimmer’s condition.
“I never at any time felt threatened,” Wright said Monday. “And all of the frustration she expressed while I was there was targeted around the medical condition and the health of her husband.”
“She saw us doing the primary work so she was continuing to speak out. She was continuing to say, ‘What’s happening? Is he OK? Tell me he’s going to be OK. Why aren’t you doing more? Why aren’t you doing something?”‘ Wright said.
“She did pause to yell at one or two of the other passengers who were peering over or trying to see what was going on,” he continued. “There was the odd profanity offered.”
Sensenberger’s 68-year-old grandmother, Rita, told The Canadian Press that Maygan is sensitive about her husband’s health.
“He is quite a bit older than Maygan and she does worry a lot about him . . . if she thought there was something wrong with Rod she would be very, very upset,” she said.
Part of the conditions of Sensenberger’s release was that she abstain from alcohol — a standard clause when alcohol is believed to have been a factor in an alleged offence.
Rita Sensenberger told The Canadian Press that Zimmer had not been married before, but that does not appear to be the case.
Zimmer divorced Deborah Lamont in 2007, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
Rita Sensenberger said her granddaugher and her husband dated for years before they got married, but kept their relationship hidden until she turned 21.
It is unclear for how long they were dating before she turned 21.