Paul Bernardo charged with possession of weapon in prison
Rachael D'Amore, CP24.com
Published Friday, April 13, 2018 10:07AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 13, 2018 1:37PM EDT
Convicted killer Paul Bernardo is facing a new charge, appearing via video link from a prison in Millhaven, Ont. this morning.
Bernardo, the province’s notorious school girl killer and rapist, was charged with one count of possession of a weapon.
According to court documents obtained by CTV News Toronto, Bernardo is accused of possessing a homemade shank composed of a screw and a pen for a handle, allegedly for the purpose of committing an offence.
The offence date listed in the court documents is February 9, 2018.
Bernardo appeared briefly on the video screen in a courtroom in Napanee, Ont. which is about about 25 kilometres away from Millhaven.
He was wearing a blue T-shirt with his dirty blonde hair piled atop his head.
According to a CTV News Toronto reporter inside the courtroom, Bernardo was smiling and laughing at someone off camera, presumably a prison guard, as he waited for court to begin.
The hearing lasted a brief few minutes and Bernardo reportedly smiled and nodded, thanking Justice Geoffrey Griffin.
Griffin informed Bernardo that his lawyer had requested more information about the case and asked that the matter be put over until May 18 at 9:30 a.m.
Bernardo is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, rapes and murders of 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French 1991 and 1992, respectively. He was deemed a dangerous offender and has been serving his sentence segregated from other inmates.
He became eligible for day parole last year.
Tim Danson, the lawyer who represented the French and Mahaffy families during the original trial, told CP24 he was not aware of the new charge Bernardo faces.
But he said a conviction could have a “major impact on his bid for parole.”
“Obviously even Paul Bernardo is entitled to the presumption of innocence on this,” Danson told reporters from his Toronto office on Friday. “But if it’s true and he is convicted, it will have a significant impact on his bid for freedom.”
Danson said his clients will remain “vigilant” in their fight to prevent Bernardo’s freedom, noting that he has made a number of access to information requests for Bernardo’s “entire parole fire.”
While there’s a tentative parole board hearing scheduled for Bernardo in October, Bernardo has postponed numerous court dates in the past. Danson said the prolonged case is taking a toll on the victim’s families.
“The whole process has really been tearing them apart,” he said. “I mean, it’s hard to believe we’re some 23 years later and they have to deal with his application to not only to be relieved of the consequences of his life sentence, but to also be relieved of the consequences of his dangerous offender designation.”
Danson said he hopes the parole board will first deal Bernardo’s dangerous offender designation and the ramifications of his release on public safety before making a decision on his freedom.
Applications for dangerous offender designations are reserved for Canada’s most violent criminals where this is a high risk that the perpetrator will reoffend.
“Having said that, my view is, and I’ve been doing this for 39 years, the chances of Paul Bernardo ever seeing freedom is somewhere between zero and nil,” he said. “That’s what I feel in my gut, but only because I’m confident we’ll put forward a very effective response.”
Bernardo’s co-accused, his ex-wife Karla Homolka, was convicted of manslaughter of Mahaffy’s and French’s deaths after striking a deal to help the Crown with their case against her then husband. She served 12 years in prison before being released in 2005.