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Court orders psychiatric evaluation for accused kidnapper Randall Hopley

09/14/2011 06:00 EDT | Updated 01/12/2012 02:19 EST
CRANBROOK, B.C. - Accused child abductor Randall Hopley is "sad and sorry" and was possibly under a suicide watch a day after his dramatic takedown and arrest, his lawyer says.

Hopley, 46, made his first court appearance Wednesday in Cranbrook, B.C., 70 kilometres southwest of the town of Sparwood, which was gripped in fear for a week after three-year-old Kienan Hebert was taken from his home.

In an unprecedented turn of events, Hebert was returned home on the weekend and Hopley was hunted down Tuesday by a police dog.

"Mr. Hopley is very sad and sorry for being in the situation that he's in," said Hopley's lawyer, William Thorne, who has represented Hopley once before.

"He's also glad to see that the young boy got returned home safely. ... I don't know if he is under any (suicide watch), but I wouldn't be surprised if he was."

On Sept. 7, Hopley was named by police as a suspect in an Amber Alert that was issued throughout B.C. and eventually into Alberta, meaning the man's face and name were plastered everywhere.

At court Wednesday, Hopley sat quietly as he was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and return to court Nov. 9.

"Mr. Hopley is tired, exhausted," Thorne said outside court.

"I understand that he was taken down by a dog, so he's somewhat hurt, injured, but not too seriously. He's also very tired."

Thorne said Hopley has health issues "of various kinds," but it will be up to doctors to decide whether he has mental-health problems.

Hopley was in handcuffs when he arrived at the courthouse. He kept his head down and covered in an effort to avoid reporters and cameras, though he walked out of court without trying to hide himself.

He is charged with kidnapping, abduction of a child under 14 and break and enter. He's also been charged with two counts of breach of probation.

Two women pushing baby carriages at the back of the courthouse asked reporters if the "scumbag" was in the building yet.

Sarah Murray, who has three young children at home, organized the tiny protest.

She echoed the sentiment of Kienan's father, who said earlier this week the court system let both Hopley and the Hebert family down by not ensuring Hopley got help during prior stays in jail.

"Most definitely there's a problem with the justice system because he was out," said Murray.

"I've got children of my own and I swear the cops would never have had a chance to find the abductor that would have got my kids because I would have had him first."

Hopley wore a blue t-shirt and black pants when he shuffled into the prisoner's box, his feet hampered by leg irons. He kept his eyes straight ahead and never said a word.

When the judge spoke he stood quietly, his hands clasped in front of him.

The Cranbrook courtroom was packed, with many there just to get a glimpse of the accused.

Hopley was to have been in court in Pincher Creek, Alta., on Sept. 19 for a preliminary hearing on 12 unrelated charges dating back to May 2010 in Crowsnest Pass. They include break and enter and possession of stolen property.

A court official in Lethbridge said a brief hearing was held Wednesday and the matter was put off until Sept. 27.

In 2008, Hopley pleaded guilty to break and enter and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. A B.C. Crown spokesman has confirmed Hopley admitted in court that he attempted to take a 10-year-old boy from a home in Sparwood, although charges of unlawful confinement and attempted abduction were stayed. The two breach of probation charges relate to that case.

In the 1980s, Hopley was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to two years in federal prison, though few public records are available to confirm the nature of those allegations.

Hopley's lawyer cautioned against rushing to judgment. Thorne said his client is entitled to a defence in the case involving Kienan and that a court has not found him guilty of anything.

"Hopley has a story to tell and eventually -- not yet -- his story will come out," said Thorne.

This is an unprecedented case ... the police said that in their interviews. It's a very unusual circumstance and his side of it is also very unusual."

Police have faced questions about how Kienan could have been returned to his family home without any officer noticing.

But the family of 10 had left the home, leaving the doors unlocked behind them. Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick said the longer a child has been missing at the hands of a stranger, the more grim the likely outcome.

To have the boy returned is unusual; to have him returned home is unheard of, Fitzpatrick said.

Thorne said given Hopley's notoriety, he has concerns about his client's well-being in jail, "with possible issues that other prisoners might want to take some retribution on him -- vigilante justice."

"He was Canada's most wanted man there for about five days."

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