Skip to main content

Child abductor Randall Hopley leaves his sentencing hearing at the courthouse in Cranbrook, B.C., on July 19, 2012.Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press

A convicted child abductor who was declared a long-term offender Friday and sentenced to more than seven years in prison received words of forgiveness and encouragement from his victim's father.

Randall Hopley, 48, took three-year-old Kienan Hebert from the second-floor bedroom of his family's unlocked home in Sparwood, B.C., more than two years ago. He returned Kienan unharmed several days later after a public plea from the boy's parents.

Kienan's family didn't attend any of the court proceedings against Hopley and moved to northern Alberta after the abduction.

But when told of the sentence Friday, Paul Hebert said he hopes that Hopley is able to change his life.

"I wasn't really expecting anything. I don't know what a fair judgment would have been. I think I am OK with this," Hebert in an email.

"It's more his outcome that I worry about. I hope he changes his way of life and won't hurt anyone or himself."

The Hebert family has kept in contact with Hopley. During a taped police interview with Hopley in 2011, Paul Hebert told the offender he forgave him and thanked him for returning Kienan unharmed.

Court heard that Kienan's mother, Tammy Hebert, has sent cards and letters of encouragement to her son's abductor. In the email, Paul Hebert expressed sympathy for the death of Hopley's mother last month.

B.C. Superior Court Justice Heather Holmes sentenced Hopley to six years and two months for the abduction of Kienan and an additional year for a number of break-ins at residences across the boundary in Alberta.

He received 26 months of credit for the time he has been in jail, meaning he still faces another five years behind bars.

Hopley was also sentenced to 10 years of mandatory supervision after he is released — the maximum period under the long-term offender designation.

The Crown had argued that Hopley should be declared a dangerous offender, which would have kept him in jail indefinitely.

Court heard that Hopley, a B.C. resident, entered foster care when he was 10 and remained there until he was 19. During that time, there were numerous convictions for sexually assaulting pre-pubescent children. That led to a diagnosis of pedophilia.

A forensic psychiatrist told a sentencing hearing last month that Hopley is a "high risk" to reoffend if he's released from prison.

"He matches a group who have a reoffending rate in five years of 20 per cent," Dr. Emlene Murphy told the hearing. "In 10 years, the number is 27 per cent. He's up there as a high risk of reoffending."

But Holmes said Hopley didn't meet the criteria for dangerous offender status.

"The Crown submits that a pattern of repetitive behaviour may be seen to have begun in Mr. Hopley's sexual offences as a teenager. I cannot agree because those sexual offences are too far removed in time from the abduction offences and they share only the slightest of features with them," said Holmes.

"He kept Kienan for four days and there is no evidence of any sexual contact."

The judge said aggravating factors were that it was a "premeditated and planned offence" and that Kienan was taken from his home in the middle of the night.

She said Hopley used no violence or threats, carried no weapon and spared the Hebert family by pleading guilty.

Hopley sat quietly in the prisoner's docket and had no comment for the court.

Crown prosecutor Lynal Doerksen said she was satisfied with the court's decision. She acknowledged a dangerous offender designation was difficult to arrive at because Kienan wasn't physically harmed.

"This means Mr. Hopley will be in custody or under strict supervision until he's about 63. He's received the sentence he deserved and the long-term offender designation means the public will be protected for a very long time," Doerksen said outside court.

"It's been a difficult case. It's been very unique. I'm glad in the end it was a happy story. We normally deal with cases where there's a great deal of loss that's there's never going to be a recovery from. This is a case where there was a happy ending."

Paul Hebert said Kienan is fine.

"He talks about it now and then," Hebert wrote. "He's doing really well."