Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Police error almost puts high-risk offender back on street

A mistake by the Calgary Police Service almost led to the release of a high-risk offender.

Keegan Keegan Troy Spearchief was granted bail less than 24 hours after his arrest Monday morning, providing he post a $200 surety. He was not able to post bail and remains in custody.

Spearchief, 24, was first released from prison March 7, 2008, after serving four years for a series of sexual assaults and break-ins.

He was arrested early Monday after a complaint that a man was lurking outside a woman's bedroom in southeast Calgary.

Calgary police admitted Tuesday that the officer who attended the bail hearing Monday night did not oppose bail and failed to provide the court with details of Spearchief's criminal history or supporting evidence that he was at high risk to reoffend. Consequently, the justice of the peace granted Spearchief bail.

Acting Supt. John McReynolds admitted the force made a mistake by not opposing bail but has come up with a plan to keep Spearchief in custody.

"It's very upsetting," said McReynolds. "All I can say is we made a mistake. I mean this is the last thing that we wanted to happen."

Police will do everything they can to keep Spearchief behind bars, McReynolds said. "He's going to get released on the charges [but] he's going to get re-arrested ... And we're going to present the strongest possible case to have him held in custody."

Alberta Justice is reviewing the circumstances surrounding Monday evening's bail hearing.

Jay O'Neil, a spokesman for Alberta Justice, said justice officials are compelled to review the case due to public safety concerns.

At the time of his release from prison last year, authorities warned that Spearchief "has a history of randomly selecting homes, breaking in and sexually assaulting women due to his uncontrolled sexual deviant behaviour."

In June 2003, Spearchief sexually assaulted two women in separate attacks in Calgary. Three months later, he raped at knifepoint 17-year-old girl who was home alone.

At 17, Spearchief became the first young offender in Canada sentenced as an adult under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

During his incarceration, Spearchief did not complete any court-recommended therapy, leading the National Parole Board to conclude he remained at risk of committing another serious offence.

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