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His behaviour is that of the quintessential shady, slimy private investigator preying on a female witness in an effort to strong-arm her into silence. But Mitch Dubros is now facing a possible prison term for badly miscalculating the strength and determination of veteran CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan.
On an early Sunday morning in February 2018, the 30-year licensed gumshoe knocked on Mulligan’s door and tried to intimidate her into dropping her criminal harassment complaint at an upcoming preliminary hearing against Mike Bullard, the talk show host she’d briefly dated.
Dubros left her a voicemail, as well, and then moved on to her colleagues and ex-husband, making the same veiled threats that he would dig up dirt and ruin careers unless Mulligan backed off.
To her credit, she didn’t, of course. The disgraced Bullard eventually pleaded guilty to one count of making harassing phone calls to Mulligan and two of breaching court orders and was given a conditional discharge. Dubros was found guilty by a jury last year of obstructing justice.
In her poignant victim impact statement, Mulligan expressed understandable resentment that she’s had to take time out from battling Stage 4 breast cancer to speak at his sentencing hearing — but said it was important to protect future victims of Dubros’ “grotesque tactics.”
“I am trying so hard to stay positive, so I don’t drown in despair, and this case has taken me back to a time of stress that I never wanted to think about ever again,” she said fiercely over Zoom.
“But I am here today because I believe in our justice system. It is one of the pillars of our democracy, and the person sitting in court today convicted of attempting to obstruct justice abused that with his actions.
“He tried to scare me into silence, so I wouldn’t testify against the man who frightened my daughters and me, someone I simply dated for a short period of time, someone police thought was so unstable that they told me to take my daughters and move out of our home, a coward who was desperately trying to avoid justice and who ultimately pled guilty to harassment — this is the person Mr. Dubros was representing.”
Mulligan called his conduct “reprehensible.”
“It is hard enough for a woman to come forward and face an abuser and deal with years of delays in court, and Mr. Dubros added a whole other level of stress which was clearly his intention.”
Crown attorney Katie Beaudoin urged Ontario Superior Court Justice Kenneth Campbell to sentence Dubros, now 62, to between three and 3 1/2 years behind bars as well as impose an order not to communicate with Mulligan, two colleagues, and her ex-husband.
“Mr. Dubros engaged in a concerted effort to stop Ms. Mulligan from testifying,” the Crown said. “It was a deliberate and calculated campaign.”
Dubros’ efforts grew more aggressive over several weeks, she added, with warnings to her colleagues that he could be ruthless, could dig up skeletons, and it would just “get uglier and uglier” unless Mulligan walked away from the case.
Court heard he’d been hired by Bullard’s lawyer.
Defence lawyer Frank Addario said his client sincerely regrets the “negative impact” of his actions and should be given a six-month sentence in the community. According to his pre-sentence report, his psychiatrist suggested Dubros suffers from mental health issues and may have been under the effects of a manic episode at the time.
“That’s pure speculation,” countered the prosecutor.
Addario also told the judge that Dubros’ conviction would mean the loss of his private investigator’s licence and the end of a three-decade career.
But shockingly, the Crown told the court that there appears to be a “gap” in the regulations that doesn’t itemize “obstruct justice” as one of the crimes that would disqualify Dubros from keeping his licence.
“And that is appalling,” Mulligan said. “That is another flaw in the system that will allow him to continue his shady actions.”
Campbell has reserved his decision until next month.