By Sally MacDonald
Randall Hopley should receive a sentence of eight years’ jail plus a 10-year long-term supervision order as well as dangerous offender status, Crown prosecutor Lynal Doerksen argued Thursday in the sentencing hearing for the 48-year-old man who abducted Kienan Hebert in September 2011.
But defense counsel William Thorne said Hopley is not a dangerous offender and should be sentenced to two years in prison after consideration for the time he has served in custody awaiting sentencing.
It was the final day in Hopley’s sentencing hearing Thursday, October 10 in Cranbrook Supreme Court. Justice Heather Holmes won’t be handing down a sentence this week: she will make her decision on Friday, November 29 in Cranbrook.
Doerksen argued that Hopley has a pattern of behaviour involving young boys, starting when he was 15 and continuing until 2011, when Hopley abducted three-year-old Kienan Hebert from his bed in Sparwood, bringing him back four days later. There was no sexual paraphernalia found in the cabin where Hopley kept Kienan for those days, Doerksen told the court. However, Doerksen said, a sexual motive can’t be dismissed.
“Why does a male abduct a child? I think it’s safe for the court to conclude that it’s to sexually assault the child,” Doerksen said. “The main element is that Hopley will take a child for his own purposes.”
The abduction of Kienan Hebert was Hopley’s second attempt – and this one successful – to abduct a child from home, and it was a premeditated act, Doerksen continued, referring to Hopley’s attempted abduction of a 10-year-old boy in 2007.
“It may have been impulsive through the selection of the victim, but the nature of what was found in the house Kienan was held in shows it was not an impulsive act.”
For the defense, Thorne said the abduction of Kienan and the attempted abduction in 2007 are not connected to a spate of sexual offenses against children that Hopley committed as a teen.
“This should not be considered a pattern of behaviour at all,” Thorne said. “(Doerksen) suggests that having an interest in children itself establishes a pattern. I respectfully disagree. It has to be more than that.” Hopley “grew out of” the type of sexual offenses he committed as a teen, Thorne said. “What we have here to consider is a criminal past, beginning in the middle of his teen years and extended into his early adult years, of sexually assaulting children. Then there was nothing for quite some time.”
Hopley holds that in 2007, his motive for trying to abduct the 10-year-old boy in Sparwood was to return the child to his biological mother, who offered Hopley $2,800 for the task. And, Thorne said, Hopley has consistently said that he abducted Kienan Hebert because he felt he was unfairly treated by police and the court system following the 2007 crime.
“His explanation for the Hebert abduction – strange as it may seem, hard to believe even – is the explanation he has consistently given.” Crown and defense agreed that sentencing should take into account the fact that Kienan was returned to his home.
“The fact that Kienan was returned unharmed is a major mitigating factor and the sentence should reflect that very significantly,” said Thorne. Doerksen said the fact Hopley returned Kienan changes the sentence the prosecution is seeking.
“Had he not returned the child, the Crown would have had no problem seeking a sentence longer than 10 years,” he said. “Returning the child does not right the wrong but it is better than if he did not.”
Thorne disagreed that Hopley should be considered a dangerous offender, instead arguing for a five-year global sentence for the abduction of Kienan, breaking into the Heberts’ home, and for breaking into the cabin in Crowsnest Lake where Kienan was kept. Thorne said Hopley should receive credit at time and a half for the time he has spent in custody awaiting sentencing, bringing the sentence down to two years. Instead of the long-term supervision order sought by the prosecution, Hopley should be placed on probation following that sentence, Thorne argued. That probation would likely be served in a larger community than Sparwood.
“The chances of Hopley going back to Sparwood are nill,” Thorne said. “If he is placed on probation, there is a strong possibility he would be in a different centre where there are more Corrections staff to closely supervise him.”
Doerksen suggested a sentence in the range of nine to eleven years for the combined charges, with time served credit as day-for-day, making the range between seven and nine years. That should be followed, Doerksen argued, by 10 years of supervision that would be similar to parole with strict conditions. If Hopley broke the parole conditions, Doerksen explained, he would return to jail.
Hopley will learn his fate on November 29 in Cranbrook.