POLITICS

Dangerous offender hearing for Randall Hopley likely not til the new year

10/15/2012 09:57 EDT | Updated 12/15/2012 05:12 EST
CRANBROOK, B.C. - It will likely be the new year before a B.C. court holds a dangerous offender hearing for admitted child abductor Randall Hopley.

Hopley, who is 47, appeared before a B.C. Supreme Court justice via video conference Monday but had the matter adjourned until Nov. 19.

Hopley abducted three-year-old Kienan Hebert from his home in Sparwood, B.C., last September, only to return him unharmed four days later.

He pleaded guilty to breaking into the Hebert family's home in the middle of the night last September before taking the boy to a cabin at a nearby bible camp.

Hopley was later arrested at the camp.

Hopley has insisted he never harmed or sexually assaulted the boy, and the Crown has presented no evidence that he did.

In August, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes ordered a 60-day assessment to determine whether Hopley should be labelled a dangerous or long-term offender.

However, the assessment still isn't completed, according to Hopley's lawyer William Thorne.

He was unsure whether the examination would be completed by next month but said an actual dangerous or long-term offender hearing is a long way off.

"I would say January at the absolute earliest but I think that is being optimistic," he told The Canadian Press.

Hopley has been in custody since his arrest and is being kept in protective custody.

When she ordered the assessment, Holmes said that although Kienan and his family appeared to have moved on from the ordeal the impact of Hopley's crimes could have been far worse.

``In my view, common experience tells us there's nothing more frightening to parents than to lose a child,'' Holmes told the court.

``Mr. Hopley made the bogeyman real in their home. It seems like victims of such an event will never feel safe in their home again.''

The judge noted the Hebert family decided not to file a victim impact statement.

"Mr. Hopley was lucky in his choice of victims,'' said Holmes. "The family was able to cope and move forward.''

The Crown pointed out during a sentencing hearing in July that Hopley has a criminal history, including a sexual assault on a five-year-old boy in 1985 and an attempted abduction in 2007.

Hopley has been transferred to the care of forensic psychiatric services which will provide the court with a report. After that, a date for a dangerous offender hearing will have to be set.

- By Bill Graveland in Calgary