Judge throws out stay of convictions application for Lance Blanchard
Notorious sexual predator will now face dangerous offender hearing
Lance Blanchard will face a dangerous offender hearing in January 2018.
The sexual predator lost a bid to have his convictions stayed on the grounds his constitutional rights were violated while in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre.
Queen's Bench Justice Eric Macklin delivered the highlights of his 40-page written decision to a packed Edmonton courtroom late Thursday afternoon.
Macklin found there were many violations of Blanchard's constitutional rights over his past three years in custody, but he said, "The balance does not tip in favour of granting a stay in this case."
The judge pointed to Blanchard's lengthy criminal record, the serious charges he's been convicted of and society's interests in having the guilty findings stand.
Blanchard was convicted last December of aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping and forcible confinement after his June 2014 attack on the woman CBC has named Angela Cardinal.
'Cruel and unusual' treatment in remand
During the six-week hearing, Blanchard described his living conditions at the Edmonton Remand Centre.
The 59-year-old was designated as a "high profile inmate" from the start because he was considered a possible threat to staff, other inmates or himself.
Whenever he was moved he was placed in handcuffs and shackles and accompanied by two officers armed with pepper spray.
Blanchard is confined to his 90-foot cell for 23 hours a day. He's allowed out for "exercise" one hour a day, and when he's out of his cell he's required to wear handcuffs and leg irons because he is a high-profile inmate.
When Blanchard was sent to the remand centre in June 2014, he signed a form asking to be placed in protective custody.
He said he feared for his life — that there were "multiple hits out for him."
A court form showed he was "incompatible" with gangs including Indian Posse, Terror Squad and Native Syndicate.
Blanchard testified about a number of indignities he suffered while incarcerated at the remand centre.
But Justice Macklin said he thought Blanchard had "greatly exaggerated the extent of the ill treatment to which he was subjected."
Some of the "indignities" that Macklin claimed were:
- limited physical recreational opportunities and mental stimulation
- inadequate food and lack of appropriate utensils
- difficulty obtaining new eyeglasses and hearing aids
- denial of medication on one occasion
- verbal abuse by some guards and their condonation of verbal abuse by fellow inmates
- "fecal bombing," "urine dumping" and food tampering
- apparent failure by the remand centre to investigate serious allegations made against the correctional officers
Macklin decided that those conditions and treatment violated his constitutional rights "by being grossly disproportionate and offensive to societal notions of fair play and decency." But not enough to avoid enforcing the convictions and holding a dangerous offender hearing.
Blanchard will have to undergo a psychiatric assessment. His three-and-a-half-month hearing begins January 15, 2018.
Lawyers will return to court to discuss the hearing next week. At that point, the judge wants the lawyers to explain why the hearing is going to take so long.
"I'm going to be asking some pretty direct questions," Macklin said.
Show of support from Crown prosecutors
Fifty Edmonton Crown prosecutors packed the fourth-floor courtroom for Macklin's decision.
One long-time prosecutor told CBC News it was a show of support for Patricia Innes, who has received a great deal of media attention this week in the so-called Angela Cardinal case.
"She's worked so hard on this case and she's been vilified," the prosecutor said.
After Justice Macklin left the courtroom, Innes turned to the gallery and said, "Thank you for coming. I appreciate it."
A receiving line formed to hug and congratulate the prosecutor after the judge left the courtroom.
Innes told them, "We're not done yet. We're going to work on it. We're going to finish."