The shooting of two St. Albert RCMP officers by a repeat offender who was out on bail has raised questions about the bail process in Alberta. Now a report into the involvement of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Services with the assailant has reccomended that a review determine who should attend bail hearings and under what circumstances – and whether similar crimes can be prevented in the future.
The shooting of two St. Albert RCMP officers by a repeat offender who was out on bail has raised questions about the bail process in Alberta.
Now a report into the involvement of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Services with the assailant has reccomended that a review determine who should attend bail hearings and under what circumstances – and whether similar crimes can be prevented in the future.
The report was released Tuesday and is available to the public.
“We need to know if an improved bail process can respect people's rights but at the same time better protect our communities and the police,” said Kathleen Ganley, minister of justice and solicitor general, at a press conference Tuesday.
Shawn Maxwell Rehn shot two officers at Apex Casino in St. Albert on Jan. 17. Const. David Wynn was killed and Aux. Const. Derek Bond was injured. Rehn then fled the casino and later killed himself at a residence east of the city.
Rehn had a long and extensive history of criminal and violent behaviour, and was wanted on 27 different criminal code charges at the time of the shooting. It also became known that he was granted bail a few months earlier and that a police officer had attended his bail hearing but not a Crown prosecutor.
This is not an unusual process in Alberta, the report said. When an accused appears in court for a first appearance, a police officer can appear on behalf of the Crown and deal with the accused's bail.
The report also said that Rehn had breached his bail conditions several times before and his charges, convictions and days in custody had increased substantively over the years.
He was convicted of 68 offences, including drugs, weapons, violent and property offences, between 1995 and 2014. And despite successively harsher sentences, “he was not deterred in his criminal behaviour,” the report stated.
The report recommends that the review into the bail process consider what information should be provided in bail packages prepared by police and how best to ensure the accuracy and availability of that information.
“In order for a Crown prosecutor or a presenting police officer to conduct an effective bail hearing, it is essential that all relevant information related to an accused and their history with the justice system be available in a timely and accessible fashion,” it said.
Ganley expects that the bail hearing review will be completed by the end of this year, and will identify improvements to the system. Until the review is released, the system will stay as it is, she said.
She added that the June 8 shooting death of an Edmonton police officer, Const. Daniel Woodall, who died during a standoff with a man police wanted for arrest for criminal harassment, was not connected to the bail process.
Asked if the justice system was broken, she said there are “a lot of people who are working very, very hard to make sure that they protect the interest of police officers and Albertans.”
“This is a system that ensures both the rights of those who sort of face the state in terms of prosecution and also ensures the safety of our communities and our police officers,” she said. “So I think it's important to review it to determine if there is anything we can do to make it better.”