BRITISH COLUMBIA

Raymond Caissie, Accused Of Killing Serena Vermeersch, Worried About Harming Someone

09/24/2014 03:00 EDT | Updated 11/24/2014 05:59 EST
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VANCOUVER - In the years before Raymond Caissie was freed from prison, he told a parole officer that he feared he would harm someone if released.

Caissie, who refused to participate in treatment programs and repeatedly professed fear of being released, served every day of his 22-year sentence for a violent sexual assault and kidnapping.

Eighteen months after he left prison, he was charged for the second-degree murder of 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch, whose body was found a week ago near railway tracks in Surrey, B.C.

Eight years of parole board documents released after the charges were laid outline Caissie's worries about getting out of prison and the parole board's concerns for his release.

"You also voiced a fear that you will harm another person if you are released from prison at this time. In essence, your are afraid that if released you will re-offend," said a 2008 parole board document.

Caissie spoke openly about his fear of returning to society and how he was more comfortable within a highly-structured prison environment, the parole board said in a 2010 decision.

"You spoke of how you do not have the skills to live on your own, which you have never done, and how you cannot even shop for the basic necessities of life. You stated you were afraid of being returned to prison, if released, because you could not cope with the stress of living in society."

Caissie later denied making those statements to a psychologist.

The board said that prior to his release from prison on March 31, 2013, Caissie had spent most of his adult life in prison.

He had a "persistent pattern of sexually inappropriate and violent behaviour, both in the community and within the institutional setting" the board noted in his last detention review, three months before his release. Caissie refused to participate in the hearing.

The documents show a prison record of repeat violations, including his participation in a plot to assault a staff member.

The parole board members found at seven hearings that Caissie was likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm to another person.

Caissie was serving a sentence for the 1991 sexual assault and kidnapping of a young woman taken from an Abbotsford, B.C., museum, where she was working for the summer.

During her ordeal, she was raped several times at knifepoint and forced to withdraw money from her bank account. Caissie left her tied to a tree in the woods.

As he was being led out of court after being sentenced, he said "I'll see you in 22 years,'' according to reports.

While Caissie hasn't been convicted of Vermeersch's murder, the death has spurred political action.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay said in Ottawa on Wednesday that he'd spoken to B.C. Attorney General Suzanne Anton about the "horrifying" case.

They discussed options for monitoring dangerous offenders, he said, as well as a change to parole eligibility.

"The most serious, the most heinous convicted offenders — we're talking the Olsons and the Bernardos — would never see the light of day," MacKay said. "They would never be released, so there would be no parole eligibility for those type of aggravated serious violent offences."

It appears officials were doing their jobs in this case, he said.

Anton said a review is underway to ensure monitoring procedures were followed.

Under section 810 of the Criminal Code, a court can order supervision of a high-risk offender who poses a threat to the public after completion of their sentence.

Caissie was under such an order and faced more than a dozen conditions, including not having any contact with his past victim and not to have weapons or tools, such as rope or duct tape, that would allow him to restrain anyone.

"We need to find a better way to ensure the public is protected from dangerous offenders — by ensuring we have enough tools — and it's a matter that I will be discussing with the RCMP and my federal colleagues," Anton said in a statement.

"At the end of the day, a family has lost their daughter and they deserve answers. The worst thing that could happen is for a tragedy like this not to result in some meaningful discussions, to see how we collectively can address these situations in a much better way."

Former B.C. attorney general and B.C. Appeal Court judge Wally Oppal wouldn't talk about the specific case, but said people who are sent away for long periods of time, 20 or 25 years, aren't normal when they come out of prison.

"The world has changed while they were in there," he said, adding there are people in jail who don't know anything about cellular phones or rapid transit lines.

He said putting all dangerous offenders away in prison indefinitely poses problems.

"You have to throw away the key on some people — some people who pose a danger, and they have to be put away forever, but you can't simply put everybody away for a long period of time unless there's a real basis for it."

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