Ont. man exonerated of crime after Bernardo confession
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, June 25, 2008 5:43PM EDT
A London, Ont. man has been exonerated by the Ontario Court of Appeal for a 1987 crime that Paul Bernardo has recently confessed to committing.
Twenty-years ago, Anthony Hanemaayer pleaded guilty part way through his trial to breaking and entering and assault with a weapon in relation to an attack on a 15-year-old Toronto girl.
The mother of the girl witnessed the attack and she picked Hanemaayer out of 12 photos shown to her.
Hanemaayer, who had been working at a construction site near the victim's house, said he was already on bail for "petty crimes" and did not want to go to jail for a long time, so he pled guilty to lesser charges.
He was sentenced to two years in jail.
But, in a 2006 police interview, which was videotaped, Bernardo admitted to breaking into the girl's home.
At the time, Bernardo lived two blocks away from where the attack took place.
On Wednesday, the Ontario Court of Appeal withdrew Hanemaayer's guilty pleas, set aside his convictions and entered acquittals.
"I'm just glad everybody realizes, and in everybody's eyes, that it wasn't me,'' Hanemaayer said following the proceeding.
"That's pretty much the happiest thing right now."
Hanemaayer, a 40-year-old roofer, has said that police contacted him a few years ago about his conviction, telling him that new evidence had come to light.
But it wasn't until earlier this year that lawyers from the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted contacted him, saying that Bernardo had admitted to the attack in a 2006 police interview.
Hanemaayer's lawyers say their client's case should have been reopened immediately after Bernardo's confession.
In a legal argument filed Tuesday to the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Crown conceded that the "fresh evidence" indicates Bernardo committed the attack.
"There has been a miscarriage of justice,'' Justice Marc Rosenberg said on Wednesday.
In the video, Bernardo says he sexually assaulted and killed women because he suffered from "performance anxiety."
"The way he (Bernardo) confessed and the details he talked about in terms of how he committed this crime has convinced the Crown and police that Bernardo was the perpetrator and that Hanemaayer was wrongfully sent to jail," CTV's John Vennavally-Rao reported Wednesday from outside the court.
Bernardo is serving a life sentence for two first-degree murders and two aggravated sexual assaults. He has been declared a dangerous offender and is unlikely to ever be released.
He is also known as the "Scarborough Rapist" and is believed to be behind numerous sexual assaults in southern Ontario in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Hanemaayer's lawyer James Lockyer called on the province's attorney general to revisit Bernardo's known crimes and others that he may have been involved in.
"The Bernardo story is not over and Bernardo needs more investigation,'' Lockyer said.
"An investigation like that may reveal more Anthony Hanemaayers.''
Lockyer also said Hanemaayer deserves compensation for what he has had to endure.
"What a piece of luck ... that Bernardo should decide -- for God knows what reason -- that he would finally confess,'' Lockyer said.
"Our system shouldn't have to depend on someone like him.''
Lawyers for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted uncovered Bernardo's confession during the course of their work to clear the name of Robert Baltovich.
Baltovich was convicted for the murder of former girlfriend Elizabeth Bain, who disappeared in 1990.
In April, Baltovich was found not guilty in Bain's disappearance and death at the outset of his retrial. Lockyer alleges Bernardo committed the murder, but Bernardo has denied the act.
Despite the new evidence in the Hanemaayer case, the court heard Wednesday that the victim's mother still believes Hanemaayer is guilty of the crime.
"It was very convincing, she almost had me believing it, but, you know, it wasn't me,'' Hanemaayer said of the mother's testimony.
Even after having his name cleared, being associated with one of Canada's most notorious killers will be difficult, Hanemaayer said.
"Horrific. Very horrific,'' he said, as his elderly parents stood at his side. "To be associated with that, to be in the same sentence with that man.''
With files from The Canadian Press