Convicted sex offender Randal Hopley said at a sentencing hearing last year that he abducted a three-year-old from his home in an effort to get back at the justice system.
On Monday, the Crown plans to argue Hopley should never again get that chance.
It was a kidnapping case that bordered on the miraculous when, two years ago, little Kienan Hebert was returned unharmed to his home just as mysteriously as he had disappeared several days earlier in September, 2011.
A massive manhunt for the child’s abductor ensued and several days later, Mounties arrested 47-year-old Hopley near the B.C.-Alberta border.
On Monday, Hopley will appear in B.C. Supreme Court, where a judge is expected to hear arguments all week on whether the man should be designated as a dangerous or a long-term offender.
Justice Heather Holmes ordered a psychiatric assessment last year. Prosecutor Lynal Doerksen said he will be arguing for a dangerous offender designation for Hopley.
“Just given the circumstances of what occurred two years ago and his prior record for similar conduct, he poses a risk of repeating the same behaviour and we don’t want that to happen,” Doerksen said in a phone interview.
Hopley’s lawyer, William Thorne, has defended his client as a “simple man who did a stupid thing,” and had asked for his own psychiatric assessment to be made.
If declared a dangerous offender, Hopley could face the harshest punishment of an indeterminate imprisonment sentence with no chance of parole for seven years.
A long-term offender designation would mean Hopley could, after serving his sentence, receive a supervision order for up to 10 years.
Kienan Hebert was abducted in the middle of the night from the second-floor bedroom of his unlocked home in Sparwood, a small town in southeastern B.C., in September 2011.
The subsequent Amber Alert saw RCMP officers frantically scour the area for the child while the kidnapping case made headlines across the country. As they grew more desperate, Kienan’s parents issued an emotional public plea to the boy’s abductor, asking the man to leave Kienan in a safe place.
Shortly after, an anonymous 911 caller told the police where to find Kienan – back at his home. The boy was found unharmed inside the house, which had been empty during his absence because the family had decided to stay with friends.
Hopley was found in a nearby, abandoned bible camp two days later, and was apprehended after a brief police chase.
How Hopley managed to slip back into the house undetected with Kienan still remains a mystery. The man has pleaded guilty to breaking into the Heberts’ home and abducting the boy.
Hopley has consistently insisted that he never harmed or sexually assaulted the boy, and the Crown has presented no evidence that he did.
Hopley has a criminal history, including a sexual assault on a five-year-old boy in 1985 and an attempted abduction in 2007.
He remains in protective custody.