A convicted sex offender who most recently pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two boys in Hay River, N.W.T., has been declared a dangerous offender.

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John Murray Melanson is escorted into the Yellowknife courthouse in this file image. ((CBC))

John Murray Melanson, 48, was given the dangerous offender designation by Northwest Territories Supreme Court Justice Louise Charbonneau on Monday.

A dangerous offender designation means Melanson will remain behind bars until it is determined that there is no longer a risk of him reoffending. The designation effectively puts a criminal behind bars for life.

Originally from New Brunswick, Melanson pleaded guilty last year  to sexually assaulting two young boys in September 2006 in Hay River, where he had been working as a cook for six months.

Court has heard that Melanson gained enough trust to babysit some people's children in Hay River, until the father of the two boys found images on Melanson's laptop of children having sex.

When the father went reported the discovery to the RCMP, he also told them his children — who were both under the age of 10 at the time — started exhibiting unusually sexual behaviour after Melanson had been alone with them.

Met key criteria for designation

In announcing the dangerous offender status for Melanson, Charbonneau said she considered three key criteria:

  • Whether Melanson caused serious physical or psychological injury to his victims.
  • If there is a pattern of behaviour in Melanson's actions.
  • Whether Melanson's pattern of behaviour shows the possibility of further harm.

The judge ruled that Melanson met all three criteria, given his long history of assaulting children.

Charbonneau told the court that Melanson played strip poker with young boys in 1987, then sexually assaulted another young boy over a month-long period in 1988.

As with the Hay River sexual assaults, Melanson had gained the trust of parents or caregivers in order to get close to his victims, the court heard.

The court also heard that in all cases, Melanson breached his probation orders to stay away from children or pornography.

Charbonneau told the court that Melanson is an educated man who could possibly be rehabilitated with the right support. But she added that technical aids such as ankle bracelets are not available at this time, and drug therapy is not a guarantee.