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Basil Borutski leaves in a police vehicle after appearing at the courthouse in Pembroke, Ont., on Sept. 23, 2015.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

A serial abuser who would go on to kill three former intimate partners was never reprimanded by his probation officer for defying court orders to attend a domestic-violence program, an inquest into the murders heard Wednesday.

Instead, Basil Borutski spent the months leading up his murders harassing a new woman. His probation officer made no note of her in his file, and authorities became aware of her only after Mr. Borutski killed her.

Mr. Borutski was on probation at the time that he killed Carol Culleton, Nathalie Warmerdam and Anastasia Kuzyk at their respective residences across the Ottawa Valley on Sept. 22, 2015. Mr. Borutski was convicted in 2017 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 70 years.

More public education needed on intimate partner violence in Ontario, Borutski inquest hears

James Pearson, a quality-assurance manager for the Solicitor-General’s office, testified Wednesday on behalf of the probation and parole office. Though he spent 11 years as a probation and parole officer before taking on the supervisory role, he said he did not handle this file personally.

The jury has heard that Mr. Borutski had a decades-long history of domestic violence, including convictions for assaults against both Ms. Warmerdam and Ms. Kuzyk. Multiple police assessments had deemed him high risk, and probation documents described him as “quite manipulative.”

He was ordered by the courts to attend the Partner Assault Response (PAR) program in both 2013 and 2015, but he never went.

He gave his probation officer multiple excuses: He thought they’d be calling him. He was too confused to call and register. He had no way of getting there. He did eventually sign up, only to skip his intake appointment – expressing skepticism that he’d get anything out of it, owing to his anxiety.

Though Mr. Pearson said that this would be something a probation officer would consider as part of any assessment of Mr. Borutski, he suffered no actual consequences – even though this was not his first breach.

When he was arrested in 2014 for the assault on Ms. Kuzyk (while being on probation at the time for the previous assault on Ms. Warmerdam), he was found to have been lying about where he was living. Police also discovered a crossbow on the living room wall of the home, in contravention of a court-ordered weapons prohibition.

Kirsten Mercer, a lawyer representing End Violence Against Women Renfrew County (EVA), an organization that has standing in the inquest, asked Mr. Pearson Wednesday why Mr. Borutski was not more closely scrutinized.

“When you’re dealing with a manipulative individual like this, what concerns did you have about whether or not you’re getting accurate information [from him]? And how would that impact your ability to supervise him?” Ms. Mercer asked.

“That would be a very difficult question for me to answer as the individual who did not supervise the case,” Mr. Pearson replied.

“And yet you’re who we have,” she said.

The jury has heard that in the summer of 2015, Mr. Borutski had begun doing work for Ms. Culleton at her cottage, which she was preparing to sell.

Soon, he started doing work she didn’t ask for, and would show up at the cottage without her knowledge. He told others that he was planning to move in and that they were in a relationship. The day before the murders he confronted her there, demanding money he claimed she owed him.

Ms. Culleton, who had expressed concerns about him to friends, told him she had gotten back together with a former boyfriend and that he was not to come back there. He told her karma will get her.

When she returned to her cottage that evening, he’d ripped flowers out of the garden and tore a railing off the deck, with ominous messages scrawled on bits of scrap wood.

Ms. Mercer expressed surprise that Ms. Culleton was not on the probation officer’s radar as an apparent employer, either.

Mr. Pearson said that because Mr. Borutski was on the province’s disability program, employment “may not have come up in the conversation.”

Coercive control is a type of psychological abuse and a pattern of behaviour that runs through many abusive relationships. Here's how to recognize it.

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