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British Columbia B.C. judge orders psychiatric assessment for abductor of three-year-old boy

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley arrives at court in Cranbrook, B.C., on Aug. 9, 2012.


Admitted child abductor Randall Hopley "made the bogeyman real," a British Columbia judge said Thursday as she ordered a psychiatric assessment for the man.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes ordered a 60-day assessment to determine whether Mr. Hopley should be labelled a dangerous or long-term offender.

Mr. Hopley abducted three-year-old Kienan Hebert from his home in Sparwood, B.C., last September, only to return him unharmed several days later.

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Judge Holmes said Kienan and his family appear to have moved on from the ordeal, but she said the impact of Mr. Hopley's crimes could have been far worse.

"In my view, common experience tells us there's nothing more frightening to parents than to lose a child," Judge Holmes told a court.

"Mr. Hopley made the bogeyman real in their home. It seems like victims of such an event will never feel safe in their home again."

The judge noted the Hebert family decided not to file a victim impact statement.

"Mr. Hopley was lucky in his choice of victims," said Judge Holmes. "The family was able to cope and move forward."

Mr. Hopley, who is now 47, pleaded guilty to breaking into the Hebert's home in the middle of the night last September before taking the boy to a cabin at a nearby bible camp.

Kienan was returned to his home four days after he was taken. Mr. Hopley was later arrested at the camp.

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Mr. Hopley, who once again pulled his shirt up to cover his face while entering the courthouse, has insisted he never harmed or sexually assaulted the boy, and the Crown has presented no evidence that he did.

The Crown pointed out during a sentencing hearing last month that Mr. Hopley has a criminal history, including a sexual assault on a five-year-old boy in 1985 and an attempted abduction in 2007.

"It is an unusual case. The facts are very unique," prosecutor Lynal Doerksen told reporters after the case had wrapped up.

"Despite the fact there was no physical harm caused here or serious psychological damage, nonetheless this is the kind of case that normally would cause that kind of harm and damage."

Mr. Doerksen said he is pleased with the ruling but was quick to point out this is only the first step in the process.

Mr. Hopley has been transferred to the care of forensic psychiatric services, which will provide the court with a report. After that, a date for a dangerous offender will have to be set.

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Mr. Hopley's lawyer, who had argued his client was a "simple man who did a stupid thing," told reporters he's disappointed but not really surprised at the judge's ruling.

"It's important to note that he has not been found to be a dangerous offender. All that happened was the court decided that the first step of that process has been met. He's to be considered as a possible dangerous offender," explained William Thorne.

Mr. Thorne said his client was prepared for the possibility of the judge ruling against him on the dangerous offender application.

"I think he's disappointed. We both are. We would much prefer to have this matter over and done with and have him sentenced to an appropriate sentence in custody and he'd like to get on with his life," Mr. Thorne added.

Mr. Hopley will be back in front of the judge via video on Oct. 15 to set a date for a dangerous offender hearing. If the assessment isn't done, the matter will likely be set over for another month.

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