British Columbia's premier says he is "deeply disturbed" that a high-risk sex offender who abducted a three-year-old boy in 2011 is on the loose after failing to return to his halfway house in Vancouver.
Police say 58-year-old Randall Hopley is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant and was last seen Saturday afternoon.
Police say Hopley has a history of convictions for assault, property and sexual crimes, including three sex offences against children.
He was convicted of the 2011 abduction of a three-year-old boy in southeastern British Columbia, which touched off a Canada-wide search for the child.
Hopley had taken the boy from his family home, held him captive in a cabin for four days before returning him apparently unharmed — although the parole board said later that "serious harm did occur."
Speaking from the Canadian premiers' meetings in Halifax, B.C. Premier David Eby said it was inconceivable that a known sex offender who targeted children was able to escape supervision.
"I'm certainly, as I imagine all British Columbians are, deeply disturbed to hear about the release of a sex offender who targets children, that he was insufficiently supervised and able to walk away from the halfway house," Eby said. "I don't understand why there weren't sufficient safeguards put in place by the parole board on this individual to prevent this from happening."
Hopley served his full term for the 2011 abduction and was released in October 2018, but the National Parole Board said in January that a long-term supervision order was needed because he is at high risk to reoffend as an untreated sex offender.
In January, the National Parole Board also recommended charges against Hopley after determining that he didn't comply with supervision orders related to his release.
The parole board said in a statement at the time that the recommendation for criminal charges would go to the B.C. attorney general after Hopley was allegedly caught using a computer at a public library — less than a metre from a group of children.
In a written response, a BC Prosecution Service spokesman confirmed that Hopley was arrested on Jan. 12 after the service received the report related to the supervision order violation.
"The accused was arrested that day and remained in custody until his bail hearing," said BCPS Communications Counsel Dan McLaughlin.
"He was ordered released on a release order with conditions on February 8, 2023. The matter is set for trial on Monday November 6, 2023."
The BCPS declined further comment as the matter is still before the courts.
Eby said items such as current bail-reform legislation that is stuck in the Senate need to be prioritized to target dangerous repeat offenders and protect the general public.
"We really look to the Senate to approve the bail reform bill as quickly as possible," he said. "And it's unacceptable that they are sitting on this bill because it is compromising the safety of British Columbians."
At the time the parole board said a long-term supervision order for Hopley was needed in January, it also extended his supervision order for another year, forcing him to live in a residential facility under several conditions, such as obeying a curfew and not approaching children.
The parole board said at the time that Hopley does not "appear to understand or appreciate" the risk level of being in the library, adding that he lied to his case management team about the incident.
"You deny wrongdoing, which is worrisome, and you did not provide any reasonable explanation for your behaviours," the parole board's decision said.
"To date, no appropriate program of supervision has been established that will adequately protect society from your risk of reoffending."
Police are asking anyone who has information about Hopley's whereabouts to contact the authorities immediately.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2023.
Chuck Chiang, The Canadian Press