Paul Bernardo, one of Canada’s most infamous killers, was ordered Friday to stand trial for allegedly possessing a homemade shank in the maximum-security prison where he’s serving a life sentence.
Bernardo appeared briefly via video link in a Napanee, Ont., courthouse for a hearing on a weapon possession charge, with a judge ruling that a trial on the matter would start Oct. 5.
Court documents show the weapon allegedly possessed by Bernardo was a shank comprised of a screw and a pen. The alleged offence took place at a prison in Bath, Ont., on Feb. 9, the documents show.
Bernardo’s hearing was delayed Friday morning as court staff dealt with technical issues. When a video link was established, Bernardo appeared from prison dressed in a blue T-shirt and smiled at the judge during a brief exchange about the hour-long delay.
Justice Geoffrey Griffin ordered Bernardo to appear in the Napanee courthouse in person for the start of the trial.
He noted that Bernardo’s lawyer had requested a trial date after mid-September.
“There was a real possibility we could have given you a date before October, we could have likely given you a date this summer, but it was your lawyer that asked for a date after Sept. 15th,” Griffin said.
As the date was being discussed, Bernardo asked that the trial take place before an upcoming parole hearing.
“Your honour, I have a parole date in October and I’d like to have the matter handled before that, if that’s possible,” he said.
Griffin, who initially considered scheduling the trial for Oct. 26, moved it to Oct. 5.
Bernardo was arrested in the 1990s on allegations that he raped and murdered multiple teenage girls at his southern Ontario home.
His 1995 trial for the deaths of 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French horrified Canadians as lawyers presented videotaped evidence of his repeated brutal attacks on the teenagers.
Bernardo was eventually convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, forcible confinement and aggravated sexual assault in both cases and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
He was later convicted of manslaughter in the death of Tammy Homolka, the younger sister of his wife Karla Homolka, who was convicted of having roles in all three killings and served a 12-year prison sentence after striking a deal with prosecutors.
After admitting to raping 14 other women in and around Toronto, Bernardo was labelled a dangerous offender.