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Family of murdered teen proposes young offender reform

A photo of Kimberly Proctor, an 18-year-old from Langford whose burned body was found in the Victoria suburb in March 2010.

Geoff Howe/The Globe and Mail

The family of a Victoria-area teenager lured to her death by two teen killers described by a judge as beyond rehabilitation is calling on the federal and British Columbia governments to reform the young offender system.

Seven members of Kimberly Proctor's family, including her parents, grandparents and brother, said on Thursday at a news conference that they have written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Christy Clark outlining their reform proposals, which they call Kimberly's Law.

"We know that we can never get Kim back, but we hope that some good can come out of this," said Lucy Proctor, Kimberly's mother. "I don't wish this upon anybody."

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Their proposals include identifying potentially violent students and allowing courts to order treatment for those deemed to be threats; publicly naming young offenders who plead guilty; and ensuring those who are found guilty in adult court receive the same sentences as adults.

Cameron Moffat, 18, and 17-year-old Kruse Wellwood pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree murder and committing indignity to human remains. The teens were sentenced as adults last April, receiving automatic life sentences, but because of their youth, are eligible for parole after 10 years.

B.C. Supreme Court Judge Robert Johnston said the circumstances of Ms. Proctor's death were so horrifying that words could not describe the inhumane treatment she suffered at the hands of the two teens.

The teens, who knew 18-year-old Ms. Proctor from school, admitted luring her to Mr. Wellwood's home in March, 2010, where they sexually assaulted her, murdered her, mutilated her body, burned it and dumped it on a popular suburban Victoria hiking trail.

Ms. Proctor's parents said they are still grief-stricken over losing their daughter, but after enduring their family tragedy and the resulting justice process, they want to make sure other families don't have to experience what they have.

Fred Proctor, Kimberly's father, said it was difficult for the family to speak publicly about their daughter's death, but the Proctors want to do what they can to prevent similar situations.

"We came to realize this could have been anybody's child that was murdered in this way," he said as his voiced trailed off. "Hopefully, some good can come from this, some change for the future, for all."

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Mr. Proctor said the family found flaws in the justice system and hopes their proposed reforms make a difference.

Victoria-area lawyer Troy DeSouza, a two-time federal Conservative candidate, said of the seven proposals, three are aimed at the B.C. government and four at the federal government.

The three provincial reforms revolve around identifying and treating young people who may be prone to violence.

They include making schools safer by implementing threat assessment protocols that identify potentially violent students and developing treatment plans, including court-ordered forced treatment of young people identified as threats.

Mr. DeSouza said Kimberly's Law also proposes amending B.C.'s Parental Responsibility Act to make parents responsible for damages caused by their children to a maximum of $25,000 as relief from injury to a person or loss of life.

He said the penalty may compel otherwise uninvolved parents to take more control of the violent actions of their children.

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The four proposals to reform federal youth justice primarily involve getting tougher on young people raised to adult courts.

Kimberly's Law seeks to automatically transfer to adult court an alleged offender 16 years old or older who is charged with first-degree or second-degree murder.

The law would allow the name of a young offender to become public once the offender pleads guilty. Currently, the names of young offenders are banned from publication until the accused are sentenced.

Kimberly's Law seeks to ensure young offenders who are sentenced to life as adults receive the same sentences – 25-year without parole – as adults. Currently, young offenders sentenced to life as adults, as the Proctor killers were, are eligible for parole after serving 10 years.

Fred Proctor said he felt almost duped by the justice system when he discovered Mr. Wellwood and Mr. Moffat were eligible for parole after 10 years.

"We were led to believe they were going to be sentenced as adults," he said. "This is a farce. It's ridiculous."

"Is the rest of the country aware of this? It's a farce. Does that mean in seven years' time we're going to have to go through a parole hearing and get dragged through all this garbage again?"

Kimberly's Law also proposes the federal government separate young offenders charged with first-and second-degree murder from other young offenders in custody facilities to prevent the other inmates from being exposed or traumatized by the details of the crimes committed by the alleged youth killers.

Ms. Proctor's grandmother, Linda, said several young people who were inmates at the Victoria youth custody centre that held Mr. Wellwood and Mr. Moffat received counselling after they left because they were exposed to the boastful details of the Proctor crime.

The court heard last April that psychiatric reports on the two teen killers concluded they are highly damaged individuals and were not likely to be rehabilitated despite a lengthy prison term.

"The Proctor family seeks justice from Kimberly's tragic and untimely death by advocating reforms that would help prevent what happened to Kimberly from happening to other young people," said the family's letter to Mr. Harper and Ms. Clark.

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