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McLeod Lake woman sentenced for obstructing son's arrest

Cynthia Marie Openshaw grabbed officer's rifle and dislodged magazine; son threw hammer at officer

A McLeod Lake woman has been sentenced to a 120-day conditional sentence order and two years probation for obstructing RCMP's effort to arrest her son.

Cynthia Marie Openshaw was also issued a 10-year firearms prohibition during a hearing Thurs., Oct. 14 in Mackenzie provincial court.

Conditional sentence orders are effectively house arrest in which convicts' time off their properties is typically limited to working hours plus some allowance for shopping and medical appointments.

The outcome stems from a Dec. 4, 2018 incident when police had responded to a report that Openshaw's son, Joseph Edward Zaworski, was driving a stolen pickup truck and had tracked him to her home. 

According to a decision in which Zaworski was sentenced to three years for throwing a hammer at one of the members, the suspect ran into the home with an RCMP officer in "hot pursuit." 

Openshaw, who was described as a "strong advocate" for her son, attempted to push one officer out of the house and in an ensuing struggle with another, grabbed the barrel of the officer's carbine rifle with one hand and the trigger with the other hand.

At one point, she released the magazine from the rifle but the officer was able to recover the item and chased Zaworski down the hallway. As he did, Openshaw grabbed at his leg to prevent him from arresting Zaworski. He had to kick her off to free himself.

Another officer had his gun drawn. When Openshaw grabbed the officer's arms and told him to get out of her house and put his gun away, she was thrown to the ground and subdued.

As an officer demanded he put his hands up, Zaworski picked up a hammer off the kitchen counter and threw it. The hammer struck the other officer in the forehead and leaving him stunned and on the verge of passing out. If not for the folded up toque he was wearing, the outcome could have been much worse, the court had heard.  

Zaworski, who was sentenced in January 2020, is in the process of appealing the verdict, claiming he did not intend to hit the officer but rather threw it at a light fixture and it got "hung up" there.  

Openshaw was sentenced on counts of willfully obstructing a peace officer and taking a weapon of peace officer.