By Annalee Grant
Court will have to wait until August to hear Randall Hopley’s sentence, as Justice Heather Holmes retired to consider submissions from the Crown and defence on Thursday afternoon.
Justice Holmes will now consider two things before the August 9 and 10 date when Supreme Court will reconvene; the first being the application for dangerous offender status submitted by Crown counsel Lynal Doerksen, the second is Hopley’s sentence after his guilty plea.
Hopley has admitted to abducting three-year-old Kienan Hebert and breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offence. He also plead guilty Thursday to charges that were waived in from Alberta. Those charges include break and enter and commit an indictable offence and possession of stolen property over $5,000 stemming from an incident in the Crowsnest Pass in May 2010.
Doerksen presented his argument to have Hopley declared a dangerous offender on Thursday.
Both charges that Hopley has admitted to are designated offences for a dangerous offender status, however the accused must have two or more previous convictions with sentences of two or more years.
Doerksen told court that Hopley has two prior sentences of 18 months, but argued they could be considered two years with parole and other conditions. He also said there is no evidence to suggest Kienan has suffered any severe psychological damage, but pointed to Hopley’s prior conviction of sexual assault in 1985 and a previous charge that was stayed in 2008.
“This child may not have appreciated the danger,” Doerksen said. He also presented a report from a child psychology expert that said many children have lasting effects of abductions.
A letter from Kienan’s mother Tammy Hebert sent to Hopley in prison earlier this year was entered into the court as an exhibit. It was not read out, but Doerksen advised the court that it told Hopley that the mother of eight children forgave him for taking her son.
Doerksen said the Hebert family is an extraordinary one – another family may not have been able to deal with the circumstances of Hopley’s crimes as easily. However, he acknowledged that the parents suffered while they waited for their child to be returned safely.
“I think it’s the great question of the unknown – will they ever see their child again,” he said.
William Thorne, counsel for Hopley, said dangerous offender status would impose the toughest penalty available in Canada ands Hopley could be incarcerated indefinitely. He emphasized that Hopley does not have the required two year sentence to be declared a dangerous offender.
“Mr. Hopley does not have two previous convictions for which he received more than two years,” he said. “This is a difficult stretch for the prosecutor to make.”
Thorne said there is no evidence to suggest Kienan is psychologically damaged because of the incident, and a general psychologist’s report submitted by Doerksen was not sufficient.
“There should be something before the court other than Mr. Hebert saying his child was traumatized,” Thorne said.
Thorne told court the cases brought up by Doerksen to illustrate the dangerous offender status all involved a sexual element – an element which is distinctly missing from Hopley’s most recent crime.
“We don’t have any violence; any mistreatment,” he said. “A simple man did a stupid thing but he did not hurt the boy.”
Hopley will turn 47 next week, and Thorne said his client has the manner and maturity of a child. His motive described in the video taped statement can only be described as that of a child. Although specific numbers were not announced in court, Thorne said Hopley has an IQ in an extremely low range of functioning.
He asked Justice Holmes to consider if it was appropriate to lump Hopley in with other dangerous offenders considering his level of functioning.
The maximum penalty for a break and enter into a dwelling is life inprisonment, and the maximum sentence for abduction is 10 years.
Kienan most upset when abductor killed a mouse:
Kienan Hebert told RCMP officers that the most traumatic event he endured during his captivity with Randall Hopley, was when the admitted child abductor killed a mouse, court heard on Thursday.
In Cranbrook Supreme Court on July 19, court was shown the conclusion of an interview between Hopley and Kienan’s father Paul Hebert.
Hebert urged his child’s abductor to become a better man and told him he would visit and help him while he served his time in jail. He asked Hopley to fill in the five days he had missed of his child’s life after he was snatched from his bed in Sparwood.
Hebert also asked Hopley if he was heterosexual, and Hopley replied that he was interested in woman. Hopley then told Hebert he was no longer sexually interested in children.
“I wouldn’t molest any children anymore,” Hopley said. “That was the past.”
Hopley has a previous sexual assault conviction from 1985, and charges of sexual assault against him were stayed in 2007.
Hopley told Hebert he was not interested in Kienan, who was too young.
He talked about killing a packrat that had moved into the cabin because he worried it might bite Kienan. The boy later told police it was traumatic, although it was not heard in court how the rodent was killed.
After the abduction, Hopley said Kienan didn’t wake up until 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. The young boy then went around the house picking up items, asking “What’s this?” Hopley told Hebert he fed Kienan Hamburger Helper and the pair stayed inside so they would not be spotted.
“He was mellow. Quiet,” he said.
Hopley then taught Kienan to give a High 5 and then put cartoons on for him. Hebert was worried about the water quality at the camp, and Hopley assured him he made his coffee from the tap and gave Kienan lots of juice.
Before returning Kienan, Hopley washed the blankets that he took from the boy’s bedroom because they were “stinky.”
Hebert said his family was moving forward after the abduction.
“There’s still some trauma we have to overcome,” he said.
At a dramatic point in the interview, RCMP Sgt. Peter Tewfik re-enters the room and tells Hopley he believes he did not touch Kienan. Hopley breaks down and cries. In court, Hopley couldn’t hold back tears as the video was played.