Edmonton

Accused child sexual predator taken back into custody after judge revokes bail

Wade Stene, 37, has been returned to custody after two weeks of release on bail. A Court of Queen's Bench justice revoked his release after Stene made the request through his lawyer.

Wade Stene felt it was safer behind bars than being surrounded by protesters

Wade Stene is surrounded by Edmonton police officers as he's taken back into custody on Tuesday afternoon. (CBC )

Fourteen days of relative freedom ended for accused sexual predator Wade Stene on Tuesday afternoon. 

Stene was surrounded by nine police officers as he was led to a police van waiting in his driveway. As the rain poured down, dozens of protesters cheered, clapped and screamed at Stene. 

Stene, 37, was taken back into police custody just moments after a Court of Queen's Bench Justice miles away in the downtown Edmonton courthouse revoked his bail. 

Stene is accused of kidnapping an eight-year-old girl on March 10 and sexually assaulting her at knifepoint. He faces eight criminal charges including sexual assault with a weapon, threats causing death or bodily harm and making or possessing child pornography. 

Stene has no prior criminal record. 

On June 12, Justice Douglas Mah agreed to release Stene on 24-hour house arrest into his mother's custody at her rented home. The day after he got out of the Edmonton Remand Centre, Edmonton police issued a public safety warning that led to round-the-clock protests at Stene's house. He was living near his alleged 8-year-old victim, prompting fear and outrage from neighbours.

Outside court Tuesday, Stene's lawyer revealed that Stene asked to go back into custody. 

"We can look at what's been happening outside of his house with the vigilante justice and what I've termed criminal acts that have been occurring," Mark Jordan said. "There's a real fear for Mr. Stene's safety and for the safety of his mother."

Protesters have maintained a constant vigil outside Wade Stene's house for the past 13 days. (CBC )

The Crown initially opposed Stene's release earlier this month and filed its own application during the bail review Tuesday. 

What Justice Douglas Mah said and heard in the courtroom is covered by a publication ban. 

Jordan said his client will be entitled to future bail applications. For now, he thinks Stene is relieved to get away from the protesters. 

"We can't be a society that condones vigilante justice," Jordan said. "In my opinion, a number of criminal acts have occurred. I don't know why the Edmonton Police Service has allowed that group to continue camping outside the residence but I understand they still have."

The police chief was asked if he was concerned about what the lawyer described as vigilante justice. 

"Nobody's been hurt that I'm aware of to this point. I think we actually had a presence certainly at these protests if we want to call them that," Chief Dale McFee said. "Just like we have a presence to maintain safety at all protests."

Zak Gladue was camped outside Stene's house for the past 13 days. He insisted it was meant to be a peaceful protest that was marred by some outsiders over the past couple of days. 

"Coming here to voice their concerns," Gladue said. "Unfortunately some rocks have got thrown, eggs have been thrown." 

'We are breathing a huge sigh of relief' 

Protesters outside Stene's house were jubilant as word circulated that the accused pedophile would be taken back into custody.

"That's what a protest gets you guys," Kimberly Moncion said on a Facebook live post. "Get out of your houses and do something. Be the change."   

Defence lawyer Mark Jordan is concerned about the protesters' reactions. 

Defence lawyer Mark Jordan speaks to reporters outside the Edmonton courthouse. (Samuel Martin/CBC )

"The concern is that these protesters engaging in vigilante justice will think that what they've done has been successful and may motivate their movement to do this in future cases," Jordan said.  "Where there's a press release about somebody who's accused or an offender who's been released, this may occur [again] going forward."

Charlene Demeria lives next door to Stene along with her children. 

She spoke to CBC News after Stene had been taken away by police. 

"Our community is going to heal and we can finally relax," Demeria said. 

Despite the disruption, she was grateful for the protesters' presence. 

"It's overwhelming to see the support that came out from the community and other people from the city. Fighting for justice.

"It's not right what happened," she said. 

The victim's family is also grateful that Stene has been taken back into custody 

"It has been a difficult few weeks and we are breathing a huge sigh of relief with today's news of Mr. Stene's return to custody," the family said in an emailed statement. 

"We are grateful for the support of the community and we look forward to the quieting of our neighbourhood as we await the outcome of future court proceedings."

Stene is scheduled to make his next appearance in provincial court on July 2 to enter a plea. 

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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