Video shows B.C. abductor meeting victim's father
Published Thursday, July 19, 2012 6:47AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 19, 2012 10:07PM EDT
A British Columbia court on Thursday saw a video of admitted child abductor Randall Hopley meeting with his victim’s father.
In the video, shown on the second day of his sentencing hearing, Hopley tells Paul Hebert that sexual assault was not his motive for abducting three-year-old Kienan Hebert.
Hopley, who turns 47 next week, pleaded guilty in May to abducting the child from his home in southeast British Columbia last September.
Hopley pleaded guilty to abduction of a person under 14, as well as break-and-enter with intent to commit an indictable offence.
He pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, the third charge he was facing. The Crown is expected to stay that charge.
"There was no sexual assault at all," Hopley said in the video interview.
Prompted by a question from Hebert about his sexuality, Herbert replied, "I prefer women. Children, but not in a sexual way. It was nothing to do with sex."
Hopley in 1985 was convicted of sexually assaulting a five-year-old boy.
During the interview, when Hopley was reminded of that incident, he said he would never have hurt someone Kienan’s age.
"That was in the past. I don't want to go back there," he said.
“If I hurt a three-year-old, I would just take myself out in the bush and shoot myself," he said.
To which Herbert replied, "I believe you. You took my son from me and I forgive you. Change yourself. Be a better person."
Hebert was taken from his bed at his home in Sparwood in the early morning hours of last September 6.
After his parents reported him missing, police and local residents launched a massive search operation. However, the boy was returned to his family four days later under mysterious circumstances, apparently unharmed.
Hopley had been identified as a suspect early on in the search and was the subject of a police manhunt after Hebert was returned.
The man was picked up days later at an abandoned cabin at a camp in the Crowsnest Lake area, which is just across the border from British Columbia and a short drive from Sparwood.
Hopley denies any sexual assault on Kienan, saying the abduction was an act of revenge against the justice system for what he says was a wrongful conviction in 2007.
A sentence for Hopley is not likely to be imminent, The Canadian Press reports.
The Crown has served notice that it wants to pursue a harsher approach to Hopley, and has asked that he undergo a 60-day psychiatric assessment to determine if he should be labelled a dangerous or long-term offender.
"It is merely a trigger to launch the application," said Crown prosecutor Lynal Doerksen.
Doerksen said Hopley's previous convictions for sexual assault, abduction and numerous break and enters is enough to deem him a dangerous offender.
A psychiatric report from 1982 warned that a then-17-year-old Hopley was an unrepentant sex offender who was likely to reoffend. He had been accused of sexually assaulting three children.
He was sentenced to two years in prison for his 1985 sexual assault conviction.
In 2007, he was accused of attempting to abduct a 10-year-old boy.
But according to Hopley's lawyer, William Thorne, a dangerous offender designation, which allows for indeterminate sentences, would be too harsh for his client.
"We don't have any violence, any maltreatment or any threats of violence," Thorne told the court.
"We have a case of a simple man who did a stupid thing but who treated the boy well. He has the manner and maturity in many ways of a child. Is it appropriate to put someone of Mr. Hopley's level of functioning to the dangerous offender or long-term offender regime for sentencing?"
Court documents released last year showed Hopley was identified as mentally disabled at the age of eight, but did not receive the treatment that was recommended to help him develop his social skills.
A dangerous offender hearing will likely further delay sentencing.
With reports from The Canadian Press