In Depth

Animal killer Kayla Bourque wants 'unescorted time' in community

A violent offender who admitted to fantasies of killing homeless people wants to revisit onerous probation conditions. But Kayla Bourque has also indicated she would be willing to go back into custody to get the treatment she needs.

Crown and defence grapple with challenge of managing diagnosed psychopath's post-probation future

Kayla Bourque is considered a high-risk violent offender who was convicted in 2013 of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal.

A high risk offender who admitted to fantasies of killing homeless people wants to revisit onerous probation conditions that have her living in a state of constant supervision.

Kayla Bourque appeared in Vancouver provincial court Monday for a review of the two-year probation term she got last fall after breaching a sentence she received in 2013 for killing and torturing her family pets.

Judge Elisabeth Burgess has ordered a progress report in light of the 25-year-old's application for unescorted time, increased access to the internet and treatment for an array of psychological disorders.

A unique danger

The situation highlights the challenges and risks for both Crown and defence of managing an offender who has drawn attention as much for what it's feared she might do as what she has actually done.

Kayla Bourque is requesting the ability to take unescorted trips. She is on electronic monitoring.

"We don't know how she's going to manage on her own. Or who she's going to come across," said Crown counsel Bernie Wolfe.

"Or how those people are going to react to her."

Nearly four years after her first arrest, Bourque no longer sports the tight braids seen in pictures widely circulated in warnings to the public. Her face is fuller. She wore her hair in a tight bun as she sat in a striped sweater and jeans, concentrating on a discussion of her future.

She lives in New Westminster, her life governed by a set of 47 rules that make it practically impossible to spend any time in the community alone.

She's not allowed to access social networking sites or to own a device with online capability. She can only go online under the supervision of a probation officer to look for work.

But defence lawyer Andrew Bonfield told the judge Bourque would like to use the internet to pay her utilities or to pursue an education.

'We know she's kind of sneaky'

Once considered a promising student at Simon Fraser University, Bourque saw her dreams of being a criminologist cut short in 2012 by a startling confession to a fellow student that she had dismembered cats in her hometown of Prince George.

She claimed she was taking forensic classes to "get away" with something in the future.

That admission led to a search of Bourque's residence and the discovery of a bag containing a kitchen knife, a razor blade and a mask, along with videos of her killing and hanging the family dog. 

She was diagnosed as a sexual sadist and narcissist with sociopathic tendencies when she was first sentenced.

In outlining his concerns with Bourque's current requests, Wolfe noted that she's a "diagnosed psychopath" who breached her first probation last year by accessing the internet through a PlayStation.

"We know she's kind of sneaky," he said.

Kayla Bourque says she is "willing to step up" and do her bit to get the treatment she needs.

A member of New Westminster Police Department's criminal intelligence unit watched the hearing from the public gallery with a notebook in hand.

The two probation officers who wrote Bourque's most recent progress report were also in the court.

Bonfield said the report says Bourque "doesn't seem to be engaging in the way they were hoping." But he said the unique nature of his client's situation made it difficult to get help.

"The system doesn't allow for a very easy treatment for someone like her," he said.

'Willing to step up and do her bit'

Bonfield asked the judge to tailor Bourque's probation to give her access to a psychologist with whom she had a good relationship in the past.

Bonfield said she also suspects she's autistic, but will be unable to get treatment on the meagre amount of money to which she has access.

"She really is willing to step up and do her bit," Bonfield said, noting that Bourque would be willing to be placed in custody if that's what it takes to see the psychologist.

Bourque is considered to be a high-risk violent offender.

Wolfe said she may be compliant with "tough" court-ordered conditions, but doesn't really appear to have improved since she was first sentenced.

And at some point, her two-year probation will be over.

"That's a lot of time with not a lot of progress," he said.

The Crown conceded to varying Bourque's curfew by adding an extra hour so she can be out until 10 p.m. She had wanted it extended until midnight.

But Wolfe said he would be loathe to make decisions on her internet access or unescorted time without first canvassing the probation officers.

Bourque is monitored electronically. And Bonfield pointed out that any wrongdoing on an unescorted trip would likely be precluded by her other probation conditions, which forbid association with anyone under the age of 18 and force Bourque to disclose her background to anyone in a close or intimate relationship.

Burgess will decide on the requests at the beginning of February.

About the Author

Jason Proctor


Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.