By Annalee Grant
Black Press staff
In a surprise move Monday, March 26, the man accused of kidnapping a four-year-old Sparwood boy pleaded guilty to two counts against him in B.C. Supreme Court in Cranbrook.
Randall Hopley, who was accused of abducting Kienan Hebert, pleaded guilty to two counts in anticipation of the Crown dropping a third charge against him at an afternoon arraignment hearing.
Hopley was charged with abduction of a person under 14, kidnapping and break and enter with the intent to commit an offence.
Hopley pleaded guilty to the charge of abduction of a person under 14 and to break and enter with the intent to commit an offence. He pleaded not guilty to the second charge of kidnapping, in anticipation that the Crown will stay that charge at his next appearance on July 18.
Appearing before Justice T. Melnyk, Hopley appeared by video link from the Kamloops Detention Centre in an orange prison-issued jumpsuit. He appeared healthier than in photos released after the offence in September of 2011.
Hopley spoke only to confirm his two guilty pleas, to clarify the circumstances around his not-guilty plea, and to enter that plea once Counsel William Thorne had explained the stay of preceeding that would be offered by the Crown at the next court date.
Justice Melnyk ordered a pre-sentence report be prepared leading up to the July 18 sentencing hearing. Hopley will appear in person on that date.
All three counts are relating to the abduction of Kienan Hebert, who was taken from his Sparwood home on Sept. 7, 2011. The abduction set off a manhunt across the Kootenays and into Alberta.
Police issued an amber alert, saying that Kienan disappeared from his bed overnight wearing only Scooby Doo boxer shorts.
Scores of volunteers joined emergency personnel on a massive manhunt, but Kienan was mysteriously returned to the family home physically unharmed four days later after his parents gave a public, emotional plea.
On September 13, Hopley was found by police sniffer dogs at a gravel pit in Crowsnest Lake, Alberta, and taken into custody.
A psychiatric assessment of Hopley was performed but it is protected by a publication ban.