The Crown has made a plea bargain offer to Peter Whitmore, the man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a Saskatchewan boy and a Manitoba boy in 2006.
Murray Brown, the director of prosecutions at Saskatchewan Justice, said Wednesday that the Crown has offered to dropplans to have Whitmore declared a dangerous offender in exchange for guilty pleas on the most serious of more than a dozen charges.
Whitmore, a repeat sex offender who has several previous convictions for sexual assaults against children,came to national attention on Aug. 1, 2006, when he was captured after a 10-hour standoff with police at a farmhouse near Kipling, Sask. The boys — a 10-year-old from Saskatchewan and a 14-year-old from Manitoba — were with him.
Whitmore is scheduled to appear in court in Reginaon Monday.
If Whitmore were declared adangerous offender, he might have to spend the rest of his life behind bars, pending periodic reviews.
Instead, under the proposal, Whitmore, 36, would be given a life sentence with parole eligibility in seven years.
Among theadvantages from the Crown's perspective is that it would spare the childrenfrom testifying, Brown told reporters Wednesday.
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 on Wednesday. "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 pretrial interviews and "enough was enough."
The dealwould also short-circuit whatwould likelybe a lengthycourt procedure for a dangerous offender application, Brown said.
"If somebody is preparing to say, 'I'll agree to a life sentence,'… then it just wouldn't make sense to go dangerous offender," he said.
What's in it for Whitmore
From Whitmore's perspective, one of the main advantages of forgoing a trial would be that it might allow him to say to the parole board "'I didn't put the kids through it,'" Brown said.
Pleading guilty would also allow Whitmore to get intocorrectionsprograms more quickly.Since his arrest, hehas been in remand in 23½-hour lockup.
"It gets him out of serving the dead time that he's serving now," Brown said.
Asked about the offer, Whitmore's lawyer, Merv Shaw, said,"it is expected that there will be a resolution of all matters" at court next Monday.
Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall criticized the deal.
"If Whitmore isn't a dangerous offender, I don't know who is," Wall said."If you read the dangerous offender description … it's Whitmore."
But the Crown said it's unlikely that Whitmore would be released early.
"Lifemeans life," Brown said. "If the National Parole Board wanted to hold somebody for life, they can do that. And there are a number of offendersserving murder terms that are never going to get out."
The disappearance of the Saskatchewan boy triggered the province's first-ever Amber Alert, the highest level of alert used in missing children cases.