The man accused of killing Winnipeg's Tina Fontaine was deemed at a high risk for committing violent crimes, according to federal parole board documents that illuminate a past rife with drug-fuelled offences not shown to be connected to mental-health issues.
The Parole Board of Canada documents, produced in 2012 and released to The Globe and Mail on Monday, describe Raymond Cormier's tumultuous history, including an altercation at a prostitute's home. The pair of statutory-release decisions are related to a 2009 robbery during which Mr. Cormier put an elderly man in a "bear hug" and threatened him with a knife – a weapon he used to commit several of his crimes. He was described as showing a "moderate amount of remorse."
The 53-year-old man, originally from New Brunswick, was arrested last week and charged with second-degree murder in Tina's death. The break in the high-profile case came just days after the Liberal government announced the launch of the first phase of a national inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered indigenous women.
Mr. Cormier's defence attorney, Pamela Smith, told The Globe that her client "will be contesting the charges." Ms. Smith, who has represented Mr. Cormier in the past, said she has yet to see the evidence against her client. "[The Crown's office is] sending me a hard drive later in the week with disclosure on it," she said, adding that no decision has been made as to whether Mr. Cormier will seek bail. Proceedings related to his case were put over Monday and are now slated for Tuesday morning.
A provincial court document says police allege Mr. Cormier killed Tina "on or about the 10th day of August in the year of 2014" – the first indication of a possible date of death since the girl's body was pulled from the Red River on Aug. 17, 2014. A Winnipeg Police Service spokesman said in an e-mail police believe she died Aug. 9 or Aug. 10.
The Sagkeeng First Nation teenager was last seen alive Aug. 8 of last year. On that date, she was in contact with paramedics, a Child and Family Services contract worker and police, who did not take her into their care despite the fact that she was listed as a missing person. Tina, who was in foster care and had been placed at a downtown Winnipeg hotel, was reported missing again Aug. 9, 2014.
The woman who raised Tina, her great-aunt Thelma Favel, said Monday she always suspected the girl had died several days before her body was found; the family held a closed-casket funeral because of the state of the remains. The lead investigator on the case, Sergeant John O'Donovan, contacted her and her husband Friday to alert them of Mr. Cormier's arrest. She said he explained that the two were known to each other and had spent time at a Winnipeg residence known for human trafficking.
The parole board documents provide new insight into Mr. Cormier's criminal past, drug abuse and mental health. The documents say there was no information at the time to suggest he had been diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder. Mr. Cormier admitted he made some "bad decisions" resulting from "a number of stressors and negative influences."
Mr. Cormier, whose violent behaviour is described in the documents as having begun at a "young age," served federal and provincial sentences stemming from more than 80 convictions dating back to 1978. Seventeen of those offences involved violence, according to the documents, which noted a bar fight in which Mr. Cormier stabbed his victim in the hip and left side.
"File information indicates that you were under the influence of illegal substances for most of your past offences, and the assaults were most often during your attempt to steal money from your victims for drugs," says the first decision, which imposed conditions on Mr. Cormier's release. "You have used fists, a knife with a six- to seven-inch blade, a hunting knife, and a butcher-style knife in the commission of your offences."
Mr. Cormier's statutory release was suspended on Oct. 7, 2012, after he failed to return to a community correctional facility in time for his curfew, the second decision says. "You chose to go to a home of someone believed to be a prostitute with another offender who was unlawfully at large," the parole board wrote. Mr. Cormier stated in a post-suspension interview that he was "ejected" from the house after a physical altercation.
Mr. Cormier has completed various substance-abuse and anti-violence programs, but appeared to have "made minimal gains from these programs," the documents say. At one point, he produced a diluted urine sample but maintained this was a result of "excessive water consumption."
Ms. Smith said her client is being held at the Winnipeg Remand Centre and will not appear in court Tuesday. She expects the proceedings will be pushed forward again.
With a report from Stephanie Chambers