News / Ottawa

Out of jail, Mambo co-owner anxious to start appeal

A Byward Market restaurateur at the centre of a defamatory libel trial, who was released on bail Tuesday, said every story has two sides and is anxious to tell hers to the court.

Marisol Simoes told Metro Thursday the trial was the toughest thing she’s ever been through in her life, which was compounded by the fact that she never testified in her own defence.

“It’s been a very one-sided story, hasn’t it?” said Simoes, who went to jail Nov. 16.

Simoes was found guilty Sept. 6 of the rarely used charge of defamatory libel by Justice Diane Lahaie who ruled the restaurateur was the one who sent a lewd email to a customer’s employer and set up a fake online dating profile about Elayna Katz after she left a pair of negative reviews of Mambo Nuevo Latino on May 28, 2009.

On direction from her lawyer Sean May who filed an appeal, Simoes says she is choosing to wait to disclose her version of events.

Now she says she is focused on being with her husband and her three kids aged three, eight, and 10.

When asked if she has any regrets, she said she wished her trial lawyer Henry Burr had handled the case differently.

“I think we presented a very weak case. There were a lot of things that should have been explored,” she said.

Her two restaurants Mambo and Kinki have taken a hit from the negative media attention, she said, and feels she has been misrepresented in the media.

“People are posting commentaries on social media, they’re sending emails, they’re calling. They are doing exactly that which I’ve been accused of,” said Simoes.” It’s really ironic that they’re attacking me now in the same manner.”

Simoes said she was shocked when Justice Diane Lahaie handed her a 90-day jail sentence on Nov. 16.

In her ruling, Lahaie said Simoes’ actions were “akin to cyberbullying to deliberately harm (Katz’s) reputation.”

Simoes agreed the trial tells a cautionary tale about the dangers of the Internet, but thinks it’s wrong that some have likened her case to that of bullied teen Amanda Todd.

“That’s totally the biggest reach,” she said.

Appeal to challenge Crown's evidence

Now that she is out and her appeal has been filed all Simoes can do is wait.

Her appeal alleges that Justice Lahaie erred in finding an email sent to the plaintiff’s employer matched the writing style of the accused in an Internet posting presumed to be authored by her, according to court documents.

The appeal also argues no expert was called in by the Crown to assess Simoes’ writing style.

“It was an error in law to have made such a comparison in the absence of any expert evidence on the issue,” May argued in the appeal document.

The appeal also challenges evidence from a technician from Bell Canada, who testified that the IP address used to create a fake online dating profile of Katz is the same one registered to Simoes’ home.

But Simoes’ trial lawyer Henry Burr argued his client's computer could be accessed remotely and the home router was unsecured.

With regard to motive, the appeal said, “the trial judge failed to consider other restaurant employees who would have had similar access and motive as the Appellant.”

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