OROMOCTO, N.B. — Bombardier Chelsea Cogswell, who was convicted of serving cannabis-laced cupcakes to eight soldiers during a live-fire training exercise in New Brunswick in 2018, should serve one year in jail, the prosecution recommended Wednesday.
Cogswell's defence lawyer, meanwhile, told the court the soldier should serve no jail time and should instead be dismissed from the Canadian Armed Forces and demoted to the rank of private.
The two lawyers made their submissions during the second day of a sentencing hearing for the 28-year-old soldier at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.
Cogswell was found guilty on eight counts of administering a noxious substance and on one charge of disgraceful conduct, following a court martial in August. She had served the cupcakes to soldiers while operating a mobile field canteen on July 21, 2018, on the New Brunswick base.
Defence lawyer Ian Kasper told the court that Cogswell suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and from cyclothymia, a mood disorder. Kasper also said that a combination of comments and catcalls from fellow soldiers pushed her to her limit.
"I would suggest the reason this happened, or that you can infer, her mental resilience was simply taken past the point where it couldn't handle it any longer," Kasper said Wednesday. A jail sentence for his client should be the last resort, he added.
"In this case, it is my submission that the purpose and principles of sentencing, including denunciation and deterrence, can be met through a non-custodial sentence," Kasper said. "The defence here submits the appropriate sentence is dismissal from Her Majesty's service and a reduction in rank to private."
A former commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School testified Tuesday that Cogswell's actions potentially placed individuals in a great amount of danger. The training exercise had to be halted when some of the soldiers began showing signs of impairment, and at one point it was reported a group of people fell down laughing.
In his final summations, prosecutor Maj. Max Reede told the court that the defence did not present any evidence that Cogswell's mental health issues played any role in her decision to bake and serve the cannabis-laced cupcakes.
"The prosecution submits there is no evidence before this court that would enable it to conclude that any of her diagnoses influenced her decision to bring the cannabis-laced cupcakes to the field that day," Reede said. He asked for a sentence of at least a year in jail, and he said that sentence should not be suspended.
Military Judge Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf said she needed a day to review the testimony and the submissions from lawyers, adding that she would deliver her sentence on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2021.
— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
The Canadian Press