IN THE NEWS

Feb 04, 2016

Senator Bob Runciman has introduced a bill in the Senate to ensure judges have all the facts before they release violent or habitual criminals on bail.

Bill S-217, introduced on February 3rd, requires the prosecutor to make it known at the bail hearing if the accused has a criminal record, is currently facing other criminal charges or has failed to appear in court in the past. This may result in repeat offenders not getting any pre-trial credit at sentencing when they are deservedly denied bail because of their record.

The bill is in response to the murder of RCMP Constable David Wynn in Alberta in January 2015 by career criminal Shawn Rehn. Rehn had been arrested in the fall of 2014 on a number of charges. At his bail hearing, it was never mentioned that he had more than 50 criminal convictions, some involving violence, and a number of them for ignoring court orders and failing to appear in court.

Rehn was released on bail, failed to appear in court, and subsequently murdered Constable Wynn. Rehn died later that day, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Runciman is working closely with St. Albert-Edmonton MP Michael Cooper, who represents the area where Wynn’s murder took place.

“MP Cooper and I both had the same idea about introducing this measure. Unfortunately, he was unlucky in the draw for consideration of Private Members’ Bills and is far down on the priority list. Although he plans on introducing a similar bill in the House of Commons, we both thought the best chance of success was to introduce a bill in the Senate,” Runciman said.

“By introducing this bill in the Senate, we are seeking to ensure that Wynn’s Law becomes a reality in the near future,” Cooper said. “This is common-sense legislation that will close a glaring loophole in the bail application process.”

“This bill does not constrain the judge or interfere with judicial discretion in any way,” Runciman said. “It merely ensures the judge or justice of the peace has the relevant facts at a bail hearing. If the justice in the Shawn Rehn case had been made aware of Rehn’s horrendous criminal record, I don’t believe he would have been released.”

Runciman has introduced two previous Criminal Code amendments in the past four years. Both bills passed the Senate and House of Commons to become law.

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