VANCOUVER - When Randall Hopley was eight years old, doctors at a Vancouver hospital identified him as mentally disabled and recommended he be sent to a specialized institution that could help him learn and develop his social skills.

He wasn't.

Instead, Hopley spent the next several years descending into a pattern of sexually assaulting young children that continued into adulthood, according to newly released court documents, which reveal what appear to be a number missed opportunities to intervene as the list of his crimes and victims grew.

Hopley, now 46, is charged in the kidnapping of three-year-old Kienan Hebert from his home in Sparwood, B.C. Kienan's father has expressed frustration with every new revelation about Hopley's past, and each new example of when the system could have stepped in, but didn't.

"People go into a jail or a prison, and it's time-served -- it's not necessarily 'What's your mental state? Where are you at now? Would you be a repeat offender?"' Paul Hebert told The Canadian Press in an interview.

"If he is mentally unstable, he should be staying in the home or the rehab or whatever he needs until he's fit. And if not, then you keep him, because the law is to protect citizens."

Hopley is charged with kidnapping, abduction of a child under 14 and break and enter in Kienan's disappearance, but there have been no allegations of sexual assault.

After his first court appearance last week, Hopley's lawyer, William Thorne, said his client had a story to tell that would come out in court. Thorne said Hopley was very sad and sorry about the situation he was in, suggesting his client might be under a suicide watch.

By age 8, Hopley's tumultuous upbringing was already well underway, starting with the death of his father at two and followed by what court documents describe as persistent problems at school, aggressive behaviour and a "deprived" environment at home.

But Hopley wasn't sent to any special facility, as officials debated whether he was even disabled.

A psychiatric report prepared in 1982, when Hopley was 17 and accused of sexually assaulting children, warns the teenager had become an unrepentant sex offender who was highly likely to reoffend.

Even then, after admitting to molesting three children, the psychiatrist who authored the report lamented there were few opportunities available to control Hopley's behaviour.

"He does not appreciate why other people are upset because he sexually molests young children or burns down their buildings," wrote Dr. R.J. O'Shaughnessey in a report dated Aug. 13, 1982.

"I regret that forensic services has not been given the resources to provide a sexual offender treatment program."

The report also documents the lack of options to help Hopley.

Medication to control sexual impulses was only experimental, wrote O'Shaughnessey, and there were no inpatient or outpatient programs for sexual offenders in B.C. at the time. O'Shaughnessey points to a treatment program at Simon Fraser University, but the doctor goes on to say the program was limited in scope and it wasn't clear whether Hopley would even be accepted.

Hopley was eventually charged with sexual assault as an adult and convicted, receiving a sentence of two years in federal prison.

That assault happened in 1985, when Hopley molested a five-year-old boy in Fernie, B.C., according to documents from Correctional Service Canada.

A parole officer's report from the time notes Hopley had not completed any sexual offender treatment in prison, either because his mental capacity left him unable to or because he was unwilling.

"The professional reports indicate that because of the disturbances in his psycho-sexual development, unless he is treated, he will continue to pursue inappropriate outlets for sexual release," says the report, dated Dec. 1, 1986.

"He would virtually have to be placed on 24-hour supervision in order to ensure that he not molest any children."

That sexual assault conviction was cited two decades later in another case involving a child.

Hopley was arrested in November 2007 and accused of attempting to remove a 10-year-old boy from his foster home. He was convicted of break and enter and sentenced to 18 months in jail and three years of probation, but charges of unlawful confinement and attempted abduction were stayed.

Hopley claimed the boy's biological parents had paid him to take the child.

"There is -- perhaps of the greatest concern to the people looking after the youthful complainant -- a sexual assault conviction in 1985 in Fernie," provincial court Judge Ronald Webb said during Hopley's sentencing hearing in 2008.

Hopley was still on probation from that case when Kienan Hebert disappeared.

Kienan's father wonders why Hopley wasn't kept in custody longer in yet another case involving a child. Hebert suggested it should have been apparent to everybody that Hopley needed help.

"Why would they only (sentence him) to a year and a half knowing he could be a repeat offender?" said Hebert. "That blows my mind."

Two days after Kienan was returned, apparently unharmed, Hopley was arrested just over the Alberta boundary near the town of Crowsnest Pass. He is currently in custody awaiting a psychiatric assessment.

Details of Hopley's past have emerged in pieces since he was first named as a suspect in an Amber Alert, but the information has been slow and in some cases difficult to come by.

The National Parole Board initially confirmed Hopley's 1985 sexual assault conviction, but could not say just what Hopley did. The parole board said its documents had long been destroyed.

Online court records detailed several recent convictions, including an assault earlier this year and the break-and-enter in 2008. However, the judge's reasons in convicting and sentencing Hopley in 2008 existed only in untranscribed audio recordings.

The agency that provides court transcripts in B.C. said it couldn't release the reasons because of a court-ordered publication ban. A redacted version was later posted to the provincial court website.

And parole board and corrections documents that outline allegations during Hopley's youth weren't released until this week.