Article by: TIM COOK
Regina – Crown offers deal to accused pedophile
Whitmore to be spared dangerous offender designation if he pleads guilty to sexual assaults
Jul 19, 2007 04:30 AM
REGINA–Crown prosecutors in Saskatchewan have offered a man accused of abducting and sexually assaulting two youths a deal that will see him spared a dangerous offender application.
Director of public prosecutions Murray Brown says Peter Whitmore has been offered, in exchange for a guilty plea, a life sentence without the possibility of parole for seven years.
He defended the decision as in the best interest of public safety and the alleged victims.
He also said the deal would be the easiest way to achieve the Crown’s desired outcome – an indefinite time behind bars.
“There are alternative ways to a maximum sentence – one is a dangerous offender proceeding and the other is a life sentence,” Brown told reporters.
“Frankly, if somebody that we were thinking about doing a dangerous offender on agreed to a life sentence, I would be hard pressed to explain to the public why I would spend the resources to pursue a dangerous offender proceeding.”
Whitmore, 36, was arrested last August at an abandoned farm near Kipling, Sask., after a standoff with police and the first Amber Alert in the province’s history.
He faces 15 charges arising out of events last July involving a 10-year-old Saskatchewan boy and a 14-year-old from Manitoba.
But the Winnipeg Free Press reported the Crown was forced to cut the deal when the family of the 10-year-old boy said they would never allow him to be grilled on the witness stand.
“I guess this is our fault,” the boy’s father told the Free Press yesterday.
“But there’s no way we’re putting a 10-year-old boy on the stand to be cross-examined by Whitmore and his lawyer. He’s been through enough.”
He said Whitmore’s lawyers have already had several cracks at his son during pre-trial interviews and “enough was enough.”
Brown cautioned the deal won’t be done unless Whitmore accepts it when he next appears in court. A hearing has been set for Monday.
“At any point anyone can walk away from this,” Brown said.
A person declared a dangerous offender is given an indefinite prison sentence reviewed every seven years by the National Parole Board.
But getting such a designation requires another court hearing post-conviction.
If Whitmore accepts the deal, he will spend the rest of his life under some form of supervision and won’t be eligible for release for seven years.
“Life sentences are just a very, very, very rare thing in this country,” Brown said.
“If somebody is prepared to say, `I’ll agree to a life sentence,’ and we have some reasonable assurance that the court’s going to impose that, then it just wouldn’t make sense to go dangerous offender.”