A British Columbia man charged with abducting a Sparwood toddler last September will soon see a series of property-related offences dropped in neighbouring Alberta in exchange for pleading guilty to others, officials involved with the case confirmed Wednesday.
Effectively, authorities are trying to expedite proceedings in Alberta to move ahead with the more serious charges in B.C. Randall Hopley is expected to enter a plea on Monday in Cranbrook, B.C., in connection with last September's bizarre disappearance of three-year-old Kienan Hebert.
While Mr. Hopley had a preliminary hearing scheduled this week to determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial on 12 offences in Alberta, lawyers will instead start the process on Thursday to merge the Alberta case with the proceedings in B.C., where the 46-year-old is charged with abduction, kidnapping and breaking and entering.
"Hopley's defence counsel in B.C. has asked for a waiver of the Alberta charges to B.C. for possible guilty pleas in that jurisdiction and we have consented to starting that process," said Josh Stewart, a spokesman with Alberta Justice.
The Alberta charges predate the Kienan Hebert case. Mr. Hopley is charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offence, being unlawfully in a dwelling house and 10 counts of possession of stolen property for crimes allegedly committed in May of 2010 in the Crowsnest Pass region, just east of the B.C. boundary.
Those charges are in connection with a male squatter found in a vacant cabin, which had been transformed, according to its owners, into a disturbing den for children. Police previously reporting discovering sexual paraphernalia, children's clothing and a new room that was constructed and fixed with a lock from the outside.
Greg White, Mr. Hopley's Lethbridge, Alta.-based lawyer, said the Alberta case is being expedited to deal with the B.C. charges. "It's in Randall's best interest to wrap it up all at once," Mr. White said.
Mr. Hopley has already elected that a judge alone hear his case in the B.C. Supreme Court.
Kienan vanished under mysterious circumstances from his Sparwood home, but was returned just as mysteriously four days later. Someone called 911 to alert officials that the child was safe.
Kienan was physically unharmed, according to RCMP and his parents, Paul and Tammy Hebert.
Mr. Hopley was arrested in an Alberta gravel quarry in the Crowsnest Pass seven days after the boy disappeared.
Since Mr. Hopley is currently in custody in Kamloops, it's more convenient to blend the proceedings, according to his B.C. lawyer, William Thorne. He said expects Mr. Hopley will plead guilty to the outstanding Alberta offences.
Mr. Hopley is expected to appear by video from jail during Monday's proceedings.