Soon-to-be released inmate poses danger to women: Calgary police

Calgary police are warning the public about the prison release of a man with a history of violent crimes.

Defence lawyer questions public warning 'vilifying' his client

Calgary police are warning the public about the prison release of a man with a history of violent crimes.

Gregory James Venn, 45, is due to be released in the Calgary area on Sunday after serving an eight-year sentence for breaking and entering with intent.

Venn has a history of breaking into homes to commit sexual offences against adult women, said Calgary police on Friday. He was convicted twice before, in the 1980s, for breaking and entering, and sexual assault.

While incarcerated, Venn went through three rehabilitation programs, but Calgary police said they are still concerned about his risk to reoffend because he is a diagnosed psychopath.

"I can tell you historically for Mr. Venn, the longest he's gone without reoffending is within 90 days," said Sgt. Todd Zelensky of the high-risk offender program at a news conference on Friday.

"The last time he was released in 1996 [the time] from released to reoffending was 23 days. So I mean, if past performance dictates future performance, then again that alone is high risk."

Under Sec. 32 of Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, a public body can release information about a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public.

The warning is to give the public notice to take "suitable precautionary measures," and not to "embark on any form of vigilante action," said police.

Defence lawyer slams police warning

Mark Tyndale, Venn's lawyer, said the Calgary police warning could jeopardize his client's rehabilitation.

"If they were sincere in that, they would not hold this news conference vilifying him to every citizen in Calgary," Tyndale told CBC News. He said Venn plans to move in with his mother upon his release.

"What he wants to do is get a job and start becoming a normal person. That's going to be made much more difficult in my view by the recent publication by the police of their opinions of him and warnings to the public," he said.

"They are now trying to make him fail on any conditions applied to him and they can put him back in jail and then they don't have to worry about him anymore. That's my opinion. They want him to fail."

Venn successfully appealed dangerous offender status

Under conditions of his release, Venn must:

  • Report daily to the high-risk offender program.
  • Follow a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Stay away from alcohol.

Those restrictions will remain until at least Oct. 20, when a peace bond hearing is scheduled.

Police have applied for a peace bond that could place restrictions, including an electronic monitoring device, on Venn for up to two years.

Venn had been declared a dangerous offender, a designation that allows for an indefinite prison term. But he successfully appealed the status in 2000.

Venn's last arrest was in 1996 during a police sting operation. He was caught breaking into an apartment where an undercover female officer was waiting.

He had been released from prison only weeks earlier after serving a sentence for breaking into a home in 1987 and sexually assaulting a woman. He was convicted of similar charges for an attack in 1982.

For the 1996 break-in, Venn was sentenced to 16 years in prison, but was given credit for eight due to the 5.5 years he spent in custody during the trial process. His release on Sunday completes the remaining eight years of his sentence.