The KenniesBurg

Police Gazette &
Kangaroo Kourt

Amazing True Stories from
the Police Blotter & Justice System

Which criminals spend the least amount of time in jail? Politicians and their pals, of course!
Jean Brault, president of Groupaction, a Montreal advertising firm, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud in connection with Canada's so-called sponsorship scandal. He testified in court that he funneled over one million dollars to the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada in exchange for advertising contracts. On May 5th, 2006 he was sentenced to 30 months in prison but was released on parole five months later having served only one sixth of his sentence.

Canada's Worst Drunk Driver and the courts
that keep letting him get back on the road.

In the wee small hours of June 20, 1970, Charlie Hart drove an old Ford pick-up truck up a hill on Highway 79 in Lambton County, Ontario, on the wrong side of the road and killed two people. He was disqualified from driving at the time and he was drunk. The 20-year-old Hart got six months in a reformatory and was barred from having a drivers licence for three years. In February 2006 he was serving time for his 39th drunk driving conviction. Through the 1970s most of his sentences were for three months or less -- and of these were shortened further by parole. In 1990 he was sentenced to four years and paroled after seven months. Charlie Hart's behaviour doesn't change. It looks like the Canadian justice system's doesn't either.

Hubert W. Hogle, LLB asks a rhetorical question
in the letters column of the Globe & Mail.

A woman in Quebec drowns her six-year-old autistic son in a bathtub. She explains that she was depressed and frustrated at trying to get school authorities to understand her son's problem. The Crown proceeds on a man- slaughter charge and asks for a three-year sentence. The judge gives her a suspended sentence (Woman Spared Jail In Autistic Son's Death -July 3, 1997). Robert Latimer is charged with killing his daughter who had a severe form of cerebral palsy. He explains that he could not bear watching his child's continued suffering. The Crown proceeds with a murder charge and obtains a conviction of second-degree murder resulting in a life sentence with no parole for 10 years. Is there any explanation for the difference in treatment of these two individuals other than their gender? Does the law automatically assume that a man who commits a violent act is a brute while a woman who does the same is merely disturbed?

How to Get a Job Working with Computers
On his 18th birthday, April 29th 2004, Sven Jaschan, who lives in the northwest German town of Waffensen, released the Sasser worm onto the Internet. The Sasser worm shut down British Airways flight check-ins, hospitals and government offices in Hong Kong, part of Australia's rail network, Finnish banks, British Coast Guard stations, and millions of other computers worldwide.

Jaschen was sentenced to 21 months probation by the Verden State Court outside Bremen and must perform 30 hours of community work, either at a hospital or a retirement home. Had he been an adult he could have been sentenced to five years in prison (unclear what that really means in terms of the German justice system) but because he was 17 when he wrote the Sasser worm, he was tried as a minor. After three years, Jaschan's conviction will be erased from the public record. Jaschan, meanwhile, has taken a job at a computer company that creates anti-virus programs.

So, if you're an irresponsible little jerk and you want to fast-track yourself into a good job working with computers, just write a highly destructive computer virus, release it onto the Internet and cause innocent victims millions of dollars worth of damage. It works. (Just try not to be in one of the hospitals you shut down when your virus hits.)

Anyone for Golf?
On May 17, 1990, Lucie Turmel, a 23-year-old Banff, Alberta cab driver was viciously stabbed to death by Ryan Jason Love. The victim was found lying in the street with 17 stab wounds, many of which showed she was trying to defend herself as Ryan Love killed her. January, 1997. Corrections Canada officials have recommended that, four years into his life sentence, Love be transferred from the Matsqui prison in Abottsford, British Columbia to the William Head Institution, also in B.C. The William Head Institution, located on an 80-acre peninsula across from Victoria, features townhouses instead of cells, a three-hole golf course and a wharf where inmates can while away their leisure hours fishing for salmon.

Thy Employee's Keeper
VANCOUVER -- Nike Canada has been ordered to pay just over $2-million to a former worker who got drunk on the job and was left a quadriplegic in a car crash when he tried to drive home. Michael Jacobson was a warehouseman with Nike in 1991, when he was helping set up a trade show display at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver. While at work, he drank several beers with his fellow employees. Later, he went to two clubs and drank more beer before attempting to drive to his home in suburban Port Moody. His car crashed into a ditch, severing his spinal cord. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Risa Levine found Nike 75-per-cent responsible, saying the company knew Mr. Jacobson would be driving home and took no preventative measures. Nike Canada is a unit of Nike Inc. of Beaverton, Ore.

Hmm... What if she'd been a guy?
KENT, Washington -- Mary Kay LeTourneau, a teacher who had sex with a 13-year-old boy and gave birth to his child, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Linda Lau to six months in jail after the boy's mother said the woman "has been punished enough for her mistake." At the time of sentencing LeTourneau had already served 100 days and would serve less than three months more time. She pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape.

What if she'd been a guy? -- Part II
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- A Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court has acquitted a Vancouver woman of a charge of gross indecency and two charges of sexual assault. The woman, who was then a school teacher (and cannot be named to protect the privacy of the person she assaulted), carried on a two-year-long sexual affair with one of her 13-year-old male students. The woman began the affair with the boy by masturbating him in class and then having kinky sex with him at her apartment. Over the course of the affair the woman took the boy on ski trips and gave him money and alcohol. The judge ruled that a charge of gross indecency could not go to a jury because the Crown did not address what community standards had been in 1982, the time of the alleged offence.

Now, for a bit of extra fun, here's the same story with the sexes reversed:

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- A Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court has acquitted a Vancouver man of a charge of gross indecency and two charges of sexual assault. The man, who was then a school teacher (and cannot be named to protect the privacy of the person he assaulted), carried on a two-year-long sexual affair with one of his 13-year-old female students. The man began the affair with the girl by masturbating her in class and then having kinky sex with her at his apartment. Over the course of the affair the man took the girl on ski trips and gave her money and alcohol. The judge ruled that a charge of gross indecency could not go to a jury because the Crown did not address what community standards had been in 1982, the time of the alleged offence.

Part III Anyone?
In June of 1998, a 25-year-old married, male school teacher initiated a four-month-long relationship with a 17-year-old female student who attended the same Dewbury, Alberta school he taught in. The student became pregnant by him and, when the school principal and the police found out about it, he was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. In December of 2000 a jury spent a zippy 45 minutes deliberating before they decided, hey, no harm done, and brought in a verdict of not guilty. What the...? Oops. My bad. The sexes already were reversed on that one. It was actually a female teacher (named Jocelyn Jaster) and the 17-year-old student was a guy. She walked, like always.

Kill One And You Get to
Kill Another One Absolutely Free!
TORRINGTON, Wyoming -- A Canadian prison inmate convicted in the June, 1997, stabbing death of a guard was sentenced to a second life sentence yesterday (Sept. 12, 1998). Jurors spent about 11 hours deliberating whether Richard Aaron Dowdell, formerly of Lethbridge, Alberta, should be executed by lethal injection or sentenced to life without parole for killing Corporal Wayne Martinez. Dowdell was already serving a life sentence for the 1990 murder of a gas station attendant when he killed Martinez in an escape attempt.

Feel safer now? Yeah, me too.
Betrand Gange of Montreal, described as an inveterate alcoholic, ran over and killed a young brother and sister as they were walking to school. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and had his driver's license suspended for 15 years. He was drunk and driving without a license when he killed the kids. If he keeps his nose clean in the slammer, he'll be back on the road in about six years.

Get Out Your Kalculators, Kids.
It's the KenniesBurg Kangaroo Kourt
Krooks Komputation
In 1992, Julius Melnitzer, a high-profile, high-spending lawyer in London, Ontario, Canada pleaded guilty to defrauding four Canadian banks, friends and business associates of a whopping $61 million. He was sentenced to nine years in jail (the fact that it was the second-longest term ever imposed in Ontario for fraud is largely irrelevant -- Melnitzer was paroled after serving only two and a half years of his nine year sentence). In addition to the jail time, he was ordered to pay $20 million in compensation and was disbarred by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Melnitzer is now a freelance writer in Toronto and runs a computer and business consulting service. In an interview published in the Criminal Lawyers' Association Newsletter he was asked "What do you think is the proper punishment for a white-collar criminal?" Melnitzer replied "I think it is senseless to send white-collar criminals to jail."

O.K. Still got those kalculators out? Good. First, enter the amount Melnitzer stole: $61,000,000. Now subtract the amount he was required to give back: $20,000,000. Mr. Melnitzer's net profit? $41,000,000. Now, divide that amount by 2.5, the number of years Melnitzer spent in jail and remember the answer you get. If anyone should ever ask you if crime pays, you can say "Yes, it pays $16,400,000 per year.

Not really in the same league, but still...
Politician Ralph Katzman was a member of the provincial legislature in Saskatchewan, Canada. He represented the riding of Rosthern until he got caught with his greedy mitt in his party's cookie jar. He was the last former member of the province's Progressive Conservative party to face trial in a massive fraud scandal which broke in 2000. He was found guilty of illegally diverting $450,000 from the Conservative caucus to a private bank account. And the sentence? Katzman was ordered to repay $100,145.00 of the money he stole and spend a year in jail. In Canada a politician sentenced to one year in jail will probably do about three months in a "Club Med" style facility. But even if he stays in the slammer for the entire year his net profit will be $349,855.00. Not bad.

Go to your room, young lady!
The following is from a Globe & Mail review of David Paciocco's book Getting Away With Murder -- The Canadian Criminal Justice System:
One evening in 1993, Lisa Ferguson loaded a rifle and went looking for her husband. Finding him asleep on the couch, she shot him dead. It was her response to [what she claimed was] an abusive relationship. Charged with murder, Ferguson was eventually found guilty of manslaughter.
Two years later, another Ottawa woman also shot her sleeping husband. Like Ferguson, Lilian Getkate was charged with murder, raised a battered-woman defense and was finally convicted of manslaughter.
Both women were sentenced to what is known as a conditional sentence of imprisonment. This means that they were sentenced to a term of prison, but one that would be served at home, under conditions that many people would regard as quite lenient. For example, one of the conditions "imposed" on Getkate was that she "continue to maintain regular contact with her family."
The conditional sentence of imprisonment was introduced in 1996 as part of a systematic reform of the sentencing process. Here's how it works: Having decided that a term of imprisonment is necessary, a judge then considers whether the sentence of custody can be served at home. A term of imprisonment served at home? If the offender abides by certain conditions, he or she will never even see a prison. Most Canadians will scratch their heads at a system that creates a fiction of this kind. The conditional sentence was created to reduce the number of admissions to custody. But should it apply to someone who kills a sleeping human being?

4.9 Months per stab wound.
Seems fair -- if you're a lawyer.

Alberta (Canada) lawyer, Maurice Sychuk murdered his wife, Claudia, by stabbing her 22 times. He was sentenced to life in prison (heh, heh, that's a good one, judge) and spent nine years in jail. Upon his release he applied to the Law Society of Alberta to be re-admitted to the bar. The story received a large amount of media coverage and his application was denied. Whew!

Speaking of Life in Prison
On average, those convicted of first-degree murder in Canada are put back on the street in 22.4 years. Ask yourself this rhetorical question: When's the last time you heard of anyone -- anyone -- in Canada receiving a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole?

Another lawyer? Ah, hell, just let him go.
Think you can steal $170,000 from your employer and walk away without doing any jail time? If you're a lawyer the answer would be yes. In-house lawyer Noel Denis Hassett stole that amount from Talisman Energy Inc. but Provincial court Judge Tom McMeekin, in a written ruling, said Hassett's attempts at rehabilitation warranted a conditional sentence (in Canada a conditional sentence means you are required to stay indoors at home in the evenings). McMeekin placed Hassett under a two-year curfew -- oooh, scary -- and ordered him to complete 200 hours of community service. Hassett will also serve two years of probation following the completion of his conditional term, the judge said.

Judge McMeekin agreed with defence lawyer Robb Beeman that Hassett had made significant strides in turning his life around. "The court is of the view in these circumstances the accused should be encouraged in his rehabilitation efforts and spared actual incarceration," the judge wrote.

"The defence places before the court numerous favourable references from family, friends, fellow-employees and members of the bar," McMeekin said.o, if you're a lawyer and you steal a whacka dough, pretty much all you have to do is get your pals to tell the judge you're a swell guy and you get a walk. Seems -- hey wait a minute, most judges used to be lawyers, didn't they? Aaaahhh.

Crazy? Me?
When Robert Chaulk was 15, he and another youth, Darren Morrissette broke into the Winnipeg home of 83-year-old George Haywood and murdered him by beating him with a garden hose and stabbing him 17 times. After two trials, Chaulk was found not guilty by reason of insanity and released.

On January 1, 1999, Chaulk got into an argument with a couple, Mirset Zec and Debra Beaulieau, who lived in the same apartment building he did. He stabbed each of them 30 to 40 times and beat Mr. Zec's face and body so badly that police could not determine whether the murder victim was a man or a woman.

Chaulk pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter and was given two life sentences. He will be eligible for parole in six years. Mr. Haywood, Mr. Zec and Ms. Beaulieau, on the other hand, will stay dead forever. Lesson? If you're gonna kill people, do it in Canada!

Garlic Eaters Speak Out!
This letter appeared in the Globe & Mail in December of 1999.

Regarding the small story that was buried near the back of your news section (Child Molester Gets Unescorted Passes -- Dec. 9): would some enlightened criminologist or defence lawyer or National Parole Board member or Liberal justice minister please explain to us garlic-eaters who shake our heads every time we read about our criminal justice system how a man (and I use the term in the taxonomic sense only) who has been convicted of 19 child molestations, been declared a dangerous offender and is considered to have assaulted perhaps hundreds of victims is given unescorted temporary passes from prison?

Oh, wait a minute. He's been told to stay away from "public places where children are likely to be." Phew! That's O.K., then. For a minute, I thought the National Parole Board and our laws had let us down again. No, no, everything's just fine. I am sure this gentleman can be trusted to observe the conditions of his parole.

B. Kroeker, Winnipeg

Tired of the prison golf course?
May as well use that "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

In the fall of 1999, convicted cop-killer Gary George Fitzgerald walked away from British Columbia's Ferndale Institute, an "open concept", minimum security prison with an inmate golf course. His absence was not discovered until he failed to turn up for the 11:00 p.m. bed check. Police said they considered Fitzgerald a dangerous psychopath and put the public on alert.

Fitzgerald went to Canoga Park, California where he got a drivers license, a car and a job designing Web pages on the strength of a computer course he'd taken in prison.

He was apprehended on January 6, 2000 by four immigration officers from the Foreign Alien Removal Unit and eight Los Angeles police detectives while he was loading his clothes into the trunk of his car outside a coin laundry.

Fitzgerald was charged with being unlawfully at large but police say this will not result in any additional jail time because he is already serving a life sentence.

So, what's so unusual about this story? Not much, really. Canadian prisons allow killers to walk out of them all the time. The Globe & Mail newspaper story (from which this account has been abbreviated) appeared under the by-line of one Erin Anderssen, Crime Reporter. Referring to Fitzgerald, Ms. Anderssen's story includes this statement: "...he was serving the tail-end of a life sentence for a brutal double murder." The tail-end of a life sentence? Although Fitzgerald's age is not given, the story does not indicate that he was of extreme old age and, presumably, close to death. Nor does it say he was dying from some incurable disease. So how, inquiring minds might wish to know, can someone whose death is not imminent be serving the tail-end of a life sentence? Could it be that this crime reporter has become so jaded and so accustomed to the travesty of the sentence of "life in prison" in Canada that she just assumes a brutal killer and a dangerous psychopath who is given a "life sentence" will simply be let go? Probably she does.

Multiple choice. Which of the following, as illustrated by this story, is a good example of the inanity of the Canadian criminal justice system:

  1. Brutal murderers and dangerous psychopaths are placed in minimum security prisons where they can simply leave if they so choose.
  2. Killers are sentenced to life in prison without any expectation that they will, in fact, actually spend the rest of their lives there.
  3. There is no penalty for breaking out of jail if a prisoner is already serving a "life sentence."
  4. All of the above.

In an Agence France-Presse wire story datelined Liverpool, England an uncredited reporter brings us up to speed with the shenanigans of English child killer Ian Brady, one of the notorious Moors murderers from the 1960s. According to the published account, Brady had been petitioning the High Court in Liverpool to allow him to starve himself to death. The High Court, in its wisdom(?), turned him down.

In conclusion, the reporter filing the story said: "The nature of the crimes, coupled with public outrage at any hint of a release has kept [him] in detention far longer than most other prisoners sentenced to life terms." Longer than life? Are we to conclude from this that the British penal system is stockpiling corpses in its jails? Hope they're refrigerated at least. Hope the power doesn't go off.

How bad do they have to be
to simply throw away the key?

In September of 2001 William Fyfe pleaded guilty to killing five women over an 18-year period in the Montreal area. Police said most of his victims were stabbed to death but some were beaten and sexually assaulted. Fyfe is now also a suspect in unsolved murders in other parts of Canada. He was sentenced to, yet again, "life in prison without possibility of parole for 25 years." Inquiring minds might wish to know why any sane public official would ever consider putting  this guy back on the street. Five murders over an 18-year period! Hello! There's a pattern here!

Four Life Sentences
Another "you do the math" example

Here's the guy: Mitchell McArthur. Career criminal. 134 previous convictions. On October 20, 1994, he shot the manager of a Bank of Montreal branch in Port Perry, Ontario in the leg to force him to open the safe. He and an accomplice then robbed the bank. As they made their escape they shot two police officers, inflicting serious head wounds on both. They also shot a third police officer, shattering his arm. They then fired 30 shots into a crowded plaza, hitting one person in the back and arm. Half an hour later they broke into the home of an elderly couple and held the woman hostage until her husband returned home. They then kidnapped him and forced him to drive them to where their car was parked.
Here's what the court said: McArthur's 134 previous convictions prove him to be "a lifetime, incorrigible criminal [whose] moral values and sense of personal entitlement have much more in common with a Hollywood movie script than the realities of our community." The three justices who brought down the verdict went on to say "Violent attacks on police officers who are doing their duty are attacks on the rule of law and on the safety and well-being of the community as a whole." They said that there is no case on record in the province of Ontario where a criminal tried to kill as many police officers as McArthur did during this robbery and added that all four victims have suffered "devastating physical and emotional consequences."
Here's the verdict: 134-time loser Mitchell McArthur was handed four life sentences for his various crimes on the day of the bank robbery. This sounds like we will not be troubled by Mitchell McArthur again -- until you get to the now-familiar Canadian justice system gotcha: he will be eligible for parole in seven years.
Here's the math: Four life sentences divided by seven years until parole equals one year, eight months per life sentence. It truly is a wonder the criminals of the world aren't packing their bags and coming to Canada.

Disabled Sister Fails to Put Up Much of Fight
In 1994, Canadians Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay massacred Rafay's entire family: his mother, father and disabled sister. Burns, for his part, helped to kill them by clubbing them with a baseball bat. In 2004 they were both found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Now, I know what you're thinking. Life in prison, that's a good one. It'll be like one of those standard, lame-ass Canadian life sentences -- life in prison with no possibility of parole for the next ten minutes. But no. The killers were Canadian but the crime was committed in Seattle, where the Rafay family was living at the time. And the sentence, handed down in a Seattle courtroom, was not just life, it was three consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole -- ever. Some jurisdictions obviously have looked up life in the dictionary and understand what it means; they're just not in Canada.

Dangerous? Me?
In Brockville, Ontario in 1999, a Crown bid to have a repeat sex offender, who psychiatrists describe as an untreatable sexual predator, declared a dangerous offender failed. Instead, Madam Justice Inger Hansen declared Wayne Harvey a long-term offender and sentenced him to three years in prison for his last sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl. Judge Hansen also recommended that Harvey, 55, undergo treatment while in jail and imposed a 10-year probationary term following his release. Had he been declared a dangerous offender, Harvey could have been held indefinitely (a vague term in the Canadian justice system which means he could be kept in jail forever but also means he could be let go in a few months). Harvey has 42 criminal convictions dating back to 1967. Most involve sex crimes which started with voyeurism and progressed to sexual sadism. But is he dangerous? Apparently not.

Oops. Musta forgotten to feed him.
For five weeks.

Jordan Desmond Heikamp was born premature to a 19-year-old homeless woman in May of 1997. He died of starvation five weeks later while living with his mother in a Toronto hostel for new mothers under the supervision of the Catholic Children's Aid Society.

Charges of criminal negligence causing death were dropped against Jordan's mother and a social worker.

Judge Mary Hogan of Ontario Court said no evidence was presented at the eight-month preliminary hearing to support criminal charges.

Mary McConville, executive director of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto said she thought there was a great sense of relief following the decision.

Kalev Helde, president of the Central Ontario branch of the Ontario Association of Social Workers said that different parts of the system do not communicate effectively with each other.

Paula Rochman, the lawyer representing Jordan's mother, said she was pleased with the decision.

Jordan might have said, "I'm dying. Why doesn't somebody help me?"

Canadians Love Their Pit Bulls.
Canadian Judges really love them!

If you were unlucky enough to be on 128th Street in Surrey, British Columbia on the afternoon of December 18th 1998 you would have seen this:
Pit bulls attack and badly maul an elderly man outside their owner's home. Chased off by passerby Allan Lavallee, they then attack 39-year-old Danielle Ovenden and drag her up the driveway of their owner's home. Passersby Glen and Kim Nikkel get the dogs off her and the dogs retreat inside their owner's house. Joan Dupre, a neighbor across the street, comes out to the sidewalk to report that she has called 911. The dogs see her and go for her, ripping apart face and leg. While Kim Nikkel tries to protect Danielle Ovenden, Glen Nikkel goes to the aid of Joan Dupre. The dogs leave Ovenden and go for him. He fends them off and they return to Ovenden ripping one of her ears off and opening a large gash along her spine. Police arrive and are able to kill one of the dogs. The other is found later and put down. A third pit bull is found inside the house, locked a laundry room.

Danielle Ovenden required 300 stitches and months of reconstructive surgery. Joan Dupre required 260 stitches to her face, right arm and legs. The owner of the dogs, Nick Page, was fined $1,200 (Canadian funds -- approximately $800 U.S.) and another $300 (Canadian) for an attack one of the dogs made on a child a few months earlier. He was allowed to keep the third pit bull and the judge refused a prosecutor's request that Page be banned from owning pit bulls for two years.

If you're ever in Surrey, B.C., stay the hell away from 128th Street!

A Few Pertinent Statistics
From the book, Con Game: The Truth About Canada's Prisons by Michael Harris.

On average Canadian prisoners serve just 32 per cent of their sentences before receiving day parole and 39 per cent before receiving full parole.

According to a 1999 report by the National Parole Board, 37 convicted killers paroled during a 24-year period killed another 58 people after being released. The Parole Board did not include any murders committed by parolees who had been convicted of crimes other than homicide. If it had, the total would be 367!

Criminals on parole or statutory release committed 194 attempted murders from 1987 to 2000 as well as 2,647 other serious offences including sexual assault and armed robbery -- that we know about.

The Canadian Supreme Court?
With his 2002 appointment of Marie Deschamps to the Supreme Court of Canada, Prime Minister Jean Chretien created a supreme court in which five of the nine justices were born, raised and completed university in a single province -- Quebec. Prime Minister Jean Chretien was born, raised and completed his university education in the province of Quebec. Coincidence? Yet another example of Canada's cry-baby province demanding, and getting, waaaaay more than its fair share of everything? You decide.

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones
But Words Can Get Me Executed

Iranian history professor Hashem Aghajari gave a speech in June of 2001. The Iranian court deemed that what he had said insulted Islam and questioned clerical rule and sentenced him to death. It also banished him, sentenced him to 74 lashes and decreed that he be banned from teaching for 10 years. Almost seems like the "death" part would take care of the "banned from teaching for 10 years part" but who am I to second-guess the Iranian judiciary?

Accessory to Murder?
1.78 Days Sounds About Right

HAMBURG, Germany, Feb. 19, 2003.
Nearly a year and a half after more than 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11 attacks, a Hamburg court today delivered the first conviction of a suspect in the plot set in motion from this northern German city by a small terrorist cell. 28-year-old Mounir el-Motassadeq was found guilty of 3,066 counts of accessory to murder and of playing a crucial logistical role for the members of Al Qaeda who ultimately succeeded in ramming passenger planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A panel of seven judges sentenced him to the maximum term allowable under the law here: 15 years in jail. Like that annoying saying goes: you do the math.

Keep and Eye on Prisoners?
Nah. Too Much Trouble.

James Hutchison's criminal career began in 1944 and included armed robbery, theft, illegal possession of weapons, kidnapping and many escapes from lawful custody. In 1974 he and an accomplice forced two Moncton, New Brunswick police officers to dig their own graves then they handcuffed and shot them to death. Hutchison was sentenced to life in prison. On November 8, 2000 he escaped while on a day pass by simply walking away from Kingston Humane Society where he was doing yard work. The incident resulted in a Corrections Canada report, released on January 4, 2001. Instead of recommending that the rules governing the supervision of prisoners on temporary passes be tightened up, the report said that it was unrealistic to have a rule that supervisors keep inmates within sight and earshot. Corrections Canada regulations no longer state that inmates like James Hutschison must be in "sight and sound at all times." Wardens may now waive the requirement of constant supervision. Your tax dollars at work.

Those Wacky American Lawsuits
Betty Bullock started smoking Marlboro and Benson & Hedges cigarettes when she was 17. For the next 47 years she ignored all of the medical evidence that smoking causes lung cancer and says she believed Philip Morris Cos. Inc. (the company which manufactured the brands she smoked) when it said that smoking would not give her cancer. She got lung cancer and, of course, sued Philip Morris. A California jury has ordered Philip Morris to pay her $28 billion. That's not a typo. $28,000,000,000. If the award were to be paid in a lump sum it would make Betty Bullock the third richest person in the world (after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett). So, is there any better place in the world to be a complete idiot than the United States of America? We think not.

Babes Behind Bars
Karla Homolka does hard time at Joliette Prison...

Thanks, Mom! Here's some cold steel.
Despite being 71 years of age and in ill health, Adelice French took her homeless, 45-year-old son, Raymond Skuta, in and gave him a place to live. Less than two weeks later he brutally beat his mother and then repeatedly stabbed her with a butcher knife. The incident took place following an argument about locking the bathroom door. At the time of the assault, Skuta had seven previous criminal convictions including one for assaulting his stepfather, Malcolm French. Skuta was given a seven-year sentence but because he had spent a year and a half in custody, the customary two-for-one credit will mean he'll spend a maximum of only four years in the slammer. If he keeps his nose clean while he's inside, he should be out in a little over two years. Better move, Mom.

Releasing Killers on a Whim and a Prayer

An editorial which appeared in the Globe and Mail:

The National Parole Board of Canada was impressed with convicted killer Conrad Brossard. Psychologists had labelled him a possible psychopath on nine occasions between 1966 and 2001, but the board and corrections authorities decided Mr. Brossard was "an extinct volcano." He was released on day parole to volunteer at a nursing home in February, 2002. Two months later, he stabbed 55-year-old Cecile Clement to death with scissors. She had been visit- ing her mother at the nursing home.

This week, Eric Norman Fish, a convicted killer who had been free on day parole, was charged with first degree murder in a home invasion last week in Vernon, B.C., in which a 75-year-old man was beaten to death. The parole board's decision to release Mr. Fish, like its decision to release Mr. Brossard, was based more on conjecture than on science. Both men were released because they enlisted in mentalhealth programs and had successful day outings in the past -- in Mr. Fish's case, always escorted by the authorities.

By law, an inquiry must be held into the board's decision to release Mr. Fish. Such an inquiry was held into the release of Mr. Brossard. In fact, the government deflected questions in the House of Commons about Mr. Brossard's release by pointing to the inquiry which was then under way.

Well, that inquiry is complete. Conducted by a panel appointed by the parole board and Correctional Service Canada, it found no "irregularity or weakness in the decision-making process." If the Brossard inquiry proved anything, it is that case-by-case reviews are no answer to major shortcomings in parole for those serving life sentences.

The inquiry report contains the most fundamental contradiction. It expresses no doubt about the "hypothesis of the extinct volcano," even though an appended scientific report by clinical psychologist Sheilah Hodgins says that psychopaths do not change, that treatment may only make them worse and that there is "no knowledge about how to treat or rehabilitate psychopaths." Amazingly, though, Hare's Psychopathy Checklist, a diagnostic tool designed to measure whether an inmate is a psychopath, was never used on Mr. Brossard. Neither was he assessed for sexual dangerousness, though he had sev eral sexual offences on his record. If not him, then whom?

Even more amazing is why the psychopathy checklist wasn't used: The corrections system is afraid of the word. A freelance psychologist testifying before the parole board said Correctional Service Canada asks psychologists to be cautious in using the "psychopath label" because it could "follow an offender through his whole life." Imagine that!

And then the kicker: The freelancer said psychologists are worried they will be sued or brought up on ethics charges if they call someone a psychopath. (This freelance psychologist, who was paid as little as $300 under a cost-saving scheme, never even saw Mr. Brossard's complete file. His favourable "pre-release assessment" helped persuade the board to grant day parole.)

All this "is totally at odds with the sprightly conclusion of the appended report: "A major reorientation has taken place within CSC over the last 25 years. Gradually, the necessity of empirical evidence to support risk assessment and rehabilitation or treatment efforts has become the norm." Clearly, the norm is hit and miss.

Mr. Brossard dedicated his life to demonstrating the futility of parole for psychopaths. In 1970, on the very first day he was sent to a halfway house, he escaped and committed murder and armed robbery, and received a life sentence. In 1980, while with an unescorted group of prisoners on a pass, he committed several more crimes, including kidnapping, forcible confinement and attempted murder., Unbelievably, in 1986, he was granted day parole. Less than a year later, he committed attempted murder and robbery. For that, he received a second life sentence.

That wasn't enough to persuade authorities to throw away the key. Nor was a finding in December, 2001, just two months before he was released, that he was a "31.1 per cent risk to reoffend over the short or medium term." The inquiry report labels that "a low to moderate risk." If Vesuvius had a 31.1 per cent chance of exploding in the short or medium term, would the National Parole Board sit comfortably in its offices next door? It is time for a full-scale independent review of the parole of convicted murderers and other lifers. Between 1975 and 1999, 58 people were killed by 37 parolees who had been convicted of murder or manslaughter. The figures do not include lifers such as Robert Bruce Moyes, who pleaded guilty two years ago to killing seven people -- seven, that is not a misprint -- in British Columbia while on parole from a life sentence for armed bank robbery. (His co-accused, whose case is still before the courts, was also out on parole.) Twenty per cent of Canada's 12,654 penitentiary inmates are psychopaths, according to the document appended to the Brossard report. That's 2,530 volcanoes. How many will the parole board decide, based on flimsy, unscientific evidence, are extinct?

The Sad, Short Life of Percy Tooshly

When Alani Jack turned her son, Percy and his younger brother over to her stepsister, Veronica Jack in the summer of 1997, she said she thought it was best for the boys because at the time she was depressed and living in a house with a dozen other people. Veronica Jack and Anthony Elliot, the man she was living with in Nanaimo, British Columbia, signed papers saying they would treat Percy and his brother "with love and respect." Alani Jack remembered that at the time Percy went to live with Veronica and Anthony her son was "healthy, full of love and energy." Seven weeks later he was dead.

Veronica Jack and Anthony Elliot spent the seven weeks Percy was with them beating and starving him. A pathologist found 91 injuries on Percy during an autopsy. There were adult human bite marks on his left hand. Percy's teeth were decayed to the point where they would have caused him constant pain and he suffered malnutrition because his infected, decayed teeth and frequent vomiting contributed to dehydration to the point where he couldn't even urinate. He died of aspiration pneumonia caused by a blow to the stomach that forced vomit into his lungs. Pathology experts testified the boy was subjected to numerous beatings, some with a hockey stick and a rope and was on his way to dying of starvation.

The judge, Justice Ralph Hutchinson of the B.C. Supreme Court said Percy and his 16-month-old brother, were subjected to a climate of torture and starvation.

In her closing arguments, Crown counsel Andrea Miller said the couple took in Percy and his younger brother to finance luxuries for themselves. Soon after the boys arrived, Elliott and Jack used money given by the boy's mother and extra welfare money to rent a large-screen television and stereo for $97 a month.

Veronica Jack and Anthony Elliot were found guilty of manslaughter and other assault-related offences. They faced a maximum sentence of "life in prison" but got 12 years instead. After an appeal, this sentence was rolled back to 10 years. Writing for the court, Justice John Hall said the sentencing judge failed to take into account Jack's and Elliot's disadvantaged backgrounds of violence, alcoholism, loss of one parent each, foster homes and poor education. Hmm, yeah, poor education, that would explain it. They probably weren't in school the day the lesson was "it's wrong to kill babies.

Dear Mary: I'm sorry I tried to give you AIDS

In the summer of 2004, Robert Francis Lange bit a female security guard at the Winnipeg bus depot. Lange was HIV positive and had hepatitis C. He was charged with aggravated assault but the prosecution dropped the charge when it was shown that Lange's bite had not broken the security guard's skin. Lange then pleaded guilty to simple assault and he was given an 18-month suspended sentence. The judge ordered him to write a letter of apology to the security guard and banned him from the bus depot except for a two-hour period during which he could catch the bus back to his home in British Columbia. Residents of B.C. are advised to strap on the bite-proof body armour; the Canadian justice system has put Robert Francis Lange back on the street. But hey, it's not all bad. If this AIDS-infected miscreant does bite you, you could getting a nice letter from him.

My Car is Being a Much Faster Car Than Your Car.
Hey, what was that bump?

In November of 2000 Bahadur Singh Bhalru and Sukhvir Singh Khosa decided to race their Camaros along Vancouver's Marine Drive. They reached speeds more than double the posted limit of 50 kilometres an hour and Sukhvir Singh Khosa struck and killed a pedestrian, 51-year-old Irene Thorpe. The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that an appropriate punishment for each of the two landed immigrants would be a two-year conditional sentence to be served at home (translation: for the next two years they will have to stay in the house a certain amount of the time). Following a huge public outcry the Crown appealed the sentence but it was upheld by the British Columbia Supreme Court of Appeal. The Appeal Court judgment was written by Chief Justice Lance Finch and agreed to by Madam Justice Anne Rowles and Madam Justice Carol Huddard. It was not immediately known if any of the three justices has had a loved one mowed down by a Camaro-driving, street-racing landed immigrant. The original B.C. Supreme Court sentence was handed down by Madam Justice Linda Loo. It is not known if Ms. Loo was ever a landed immigrant herself.