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Monast Attacker Pleads Guilty
February 22, 2005 permalink
In this case of mistaken identity, a woman attacked a neighbor whom she suspected of causing the loss of her children. Had Children's Aid disclosed the identity of the informant at the time of apprehension, the attack would not have occurred. Earlier reports from the Toronto Sun and National Post spelled the name of the victim as Madeline Monast.
Feb. 22, 2005. 06:23 AM
Machete attacker awaits sentence
Pleads guilty to severing hands
Ex-neighbour faces more surgery
Madelene Monast was having a coffee after awakening from an afternoon nap when the assailant who had sneaked into her Scarborough home lunged at her from the hallway, waving a machete and screaming she wanted to cut off her head.
The first swing of the weapon from the enraged attacker, her next-door neighbour, cut the 46-year-old mother of five on the face.
It was the second blow, a courtroom was told yesterday, that nearly severed Monast's left hand, leaving it dangling by some tissue.
Her right hand was cut off moments later in the June 2003 attack, which defence lawyer Marshall Sack later described as a "sad case of mistaken rage."
The attacker, a mother of five whom the Star is not identifying, wrongly believed that Monast was to blame for the Children's Aid Society taking away four of her children, aged 11 to 13. She thought Monast was the informant who told the agency the children weren't attending school.
In fact, as the court heard from prosecutor Dimitra Tsagaris, it was school officials who called the agency.
"She was like an angry lioness, sensing her children were in danger and wanting to protect them," Sack said of his client, who has been in custody since her arrest soon after the assault.
"Unfortunately, this was a tragic case of her getting some information and completely misconstruing what she heard."
The woman pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder and will be sentenced March 15.
Surgeons were able to reattach Monast's hands, but she has lost the use of her fingers on her dominant right hand, Tsagaris told the court. She has limited use of her left hand, the prosecutor said.
Monast, along with family and friends, sat in the gallery as the prosecutor read out the agreed statement of facts as to what happened that afternoon at the Chester Le Blvd. home, in the Victoria Park and Finch Aves. area of Scarborough. She has since moved.
Afterward, Monast declined to talk with reporters, leaving that to her sister, Dawn Irwin, who said in a later interview that her sister "had her fill" and "wanted to go home and relax."
Irwin said the attacker "did the right thing (in pleading guilty). My sister is at ease now. It was like a weight was lifted that we didn't have to go through the turmoil of a trial."
Monast still has nightmares of that day. She has undergone three surgeries and is facing still more, her sister said. Throughout it all, Monast remains optimistic.
"It hasn't changed her life for the worst," Irwin continued. "She's a fighter ... the kind of person who doesn't have a hateful bone in her body."
The court heard that the relationship between the two neighbours was volatile and that they often weren't speaking.
For instance, Tsagaris said, a year before the attack Monast was out watering her lawn one day when her estranged neighbour felt the water was getting onto her property.
There were heated words, which led to each woman trying to hose down the other, followed by the woman tossing beer bottles into Monast's yard, Tsagaris said.
One of the bottles broke, Monast was cut and the woman was charged with assault with a weapon.
That case was before the courts when Monast overheard the woman threatening her, vowing to get even with her for calling Children's Aid (mistakenly), saying "I don't care if I go to jail."
Four of the five children — the fifth child is 19 — were taken away by the agency on the day of the attack, continued the prosecutor, and four police officers had to be called in to help agency officials with the angry mother, Tsagaris said.
Later, the woman, with the help of a male friend, was able to sneak into Monast's house and surprise the startled woman, chasing her to the basement and hacking at the door when Monast closed it to ward off the blows, she said.
Police are still investigating the role of the man who helped the woman get into Monast's house.
With files from Peter Small and Dale Anne Freed