On Watch

Looking For Answers

Posted: Oct 2, 2012 2:10 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 2, 2012 2:10 PM ET
Anyone who's studied anything about journalism knows about the five Ws: Who, What, When, Where and Why.

Every day, on every story, we try to answer those questions.

When it comes to crime stories, the answers to the first four are usually fairly quick and easy to get. Frequently, they're right there, in the first news release from police.

Take the news release we got last week from the RCMP. It told us that on September 24th at 7:15, they got a call from Upper Chelsea, Lunenburg County, about a 16-year-old male who needed help. As a result of that call, police charged 47-year-old David James Leblanc and 31-year-old Wayne Alan Cunningham with forcible confinement and sexual assault.

There it was; the first four questions answered in just three short paragraphs.

The answer to the question "Why?" is often much more elusive.

In many cases there is no satisfactory answer.

But that doesn't stop us from trying.

In the days since that news release, CBC News here in Nova Scotia has been looking everywhere for the answer to the question of why.

We have talked to friends and neighbours and members of Leblanc's family. We have talked, repeatedly, to police, both here in Nova Scotia and in Ontario where Leblanc has been arrested.

We've also started sifting through court documents and other papers that might provide clues. For instance, we've examined documents relating to another set of charges against David Leblanc. Those charges are from 2010, and involve allegations of sexual abuse and child pornography involving two very young boys.

We've also dug up documents from the Parole Board of Canada. Leblanc and Cunningham were convicted in November of 2006 of property-related crimes. When they were being considered for parole, they were assessed by the Parole Board. The Board's reports on each man provide some insight into who they were, and what might have motivated them.

While in court an accused can refuse to speak and leave it to their lawyer to spin their actions in the best possible light, they have no such protection when they appear before the Parole Board. The Board is free to ask tough questions and demand answers before any convicted person is considered for release. And that is why searching Parole Board documents can be so revealing.

We've posted copies of the documents for Leblanc and Cunningham, so you can see for yourself.
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About the Author

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 30 years in Atlantic Canada, covering everything from princes to politicians to prostitutes, and a whole lot of stuff in between. These days, he focusses on stories involving crime and public safety.

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