Edmonton hostage taker apologizes, blames WCB

Patrick Clayton offered his "utmost sincerest apologies" at a sentencing hearing Thursday to the nine people he took hostage at Edmonton's WCB building two years ago.

Patrick Clayton expected to be killed during hostage taking

Patrick Clayton offered his "utmost sincerest apologies" at a sentencing hearing Thursday to the nine people he took hostage at Edmonton's WCB building two years ago.

"I hope one day you and your families can forgive me," he said, shortly after limping to the witness stand, still in pain from the workplace knee injury he suffered more than nine years ago.

Clayton, pale and shaking, cried as he read his statement in which he referred to himself as a recovering addict. He called the hostage-taking on Oct. 21, 2009 "the world's loudest cry for help."

Patrick Clayton apologized to his victims Thursday at his sentencing hearing. (Courtesy Edmonton Journal)

"A lot of people think I'm a hero or treat me like I'm a celebrity," he said. "There is no one more disgusted than myself for this chain of events that took place."

But Clayton, 40, also blamed the WCB for "dehumanizing" him and pushing him to the "brink of snapping" and referred to himself as "a political prisoner of corporate bullying."

In cross-examination, the judge found out Clayton's troubles began long before the hostage-taking.

Clayton had been repeatedly admitted to hospital for alcohol poisoning, was addicted to crack cocaine and kept losing jobs because of bad behavior and his temper.

He remains angry at the Workers' Compensation Board.

Clayton walked into the Workers' Compensation Board building Oct. 21, 2009, rounded up nine people at gun point and forced them into a ninth-floor conference room where he held them for nearly 10 hours.

All the hostages were released unhurt.

Clayton pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of pointing a firearm, possession of a weapon, and taking a hostage.

During his testimony Thursday, Clayton said he was certain he was going to die the day of the hostage-taking.

"I had a loaded weapon in the boardroom and the police were outside," he told Arnold Piragoff.

"Did you think you were going to walk out of that boardroom alive?" Piragoff asked.

"No," Clayton replied.

Evidence entered by the WCB Thursday afternoon showed the board spent $6.6 million on security upgrades at their Edmonton buildings after the hostage taking.

The WCB also spends $750,000 more annually for additional security staff. The hearing is scheduled to end Friday.

With files from CBC's Janice Johnson