British Columbia

Accused kidnapper Randall Hopley fit to stand trial

The man accused of abducting three-year-old Kienan Hebert in September is mentally sound, understands the charges against him, and is fit to stand trial, according to experts.
Accused child abductor Randall Hopley is led out of the Cranbrook, B.C. courthouse on Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011. Hopley has undergone a psychiatric evaluation and has been found fit to stand trial. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Graveland)

The man accused of abducting three-year-old Kienan Hebert from his home in Sparwood, B.C., in September is mentally sound, and fit to stand trial, according to experts.

Randall Hopley underwent a psychiatric evaluation at the the Port Coquitlam Forensic Psychiatric Hospital after he was arrested by police in September for the kidnapping of Hebert.

At Hopley's second court appearance at the B.C. provincial court in Cranbrook, B.C., his lawyer William Thorne, said Hopley's mental fitness will not be an issue in this case and Hopley understands the charges against him.

Thorne said he will not use a defence of not criminally responsible due to mental disorder in the case.

Hopley is in custody at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, and appeared at the hearing in the Cranbrook court by video link.

He appeared alert and engaged in the proceedings, dressed in a red prison shirt, and looking far healthier than when he was taken into custody two months ago. He said little, except to politely thank the judge twice.

Case closely watched in Sparwood, B.C.

The case is being closely watched by people in Sparwood, including Hebert's family.

After Hopley's arrest, details emerged about his criminal past. Court documents show Hopley was convicted of several sexual assaults against children, and psychiatrists said he was at high risk to reoffend.

People in Sparwood said they were shocked to hear of Hopley's past, saying he was seen as a town outcast, but generally harmless.

"We did not know the depth of it. We just saw him as a bit of a different guy that faded into the background that liked to steal and do all these silly things," said Sharon Fraser, who has known Hopley most of her life.

Hopley's lawyer William Thorne urges people not to judge his client before all the facts are known.

"If one looks carefully at the charges he is facing, you'll note there is no allegation whatsoever of any sexual component. No sexual assault charge. It is my understanding the little boy was not harmed in any way. And I underline the words any way."

Paul Hebert, agrees. Soon after Hopley's arrest, Hebert questioned him for over an hour. 

Hebert says he can't say exactly what they discussed, but says he's certain Kienan wasn't harmed during the four days the child was missing.

"It's the unbelievable scenario, he was abducted in his sleep and returned in his sleep."

The case is back in court on Dec. 19 for a bail proceeding.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating