Nfld. & Labrador

Convicted sex offender arrested working at cafe in Paradise hockey rink

Peter Hoyles was on parole after a 2016 conviction for sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

The conditions of his parole stated he could not be around minors

Hoyles was arrested Saturday evening while working at the Coffee Matters cafe in the Paradise Double Ice Complex. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

A convicted sex offender whose parole conditions prohibited him from being near young people was arrested Saturday evening while working in a Paradise hockey rink.

"If we had known … that person would never have been employed with us," said Scott Hillyer, the owner of the popular Coffee Matters chain.

His company runs a cafe in the Double Ice Complex in Paradise, where Peter Hoyles was arrested on Saturday evening.

Hoyles, 38, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 2016 for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and uttering threats. 

Hoyles was on probation when Hillyer hired him as a cook just after Christmas. The conditions of his probation stated he was not be near minors, but Hillyer said he had no idea.

"He never disclosed the conditions in his parole," Hillyer said.

Scott Hillyer is the owner and operator of Coffee Matters. (CBC)

Hillyer said he got a call from one of his employees at the rink on Saturday evening, saying police were there.

A Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) officer got on the phone and told Hillyer they were arresting Hoyles for being in violation of his parole.

He wasn't allowed to be around young people, Hillyer said.

Hillyer said he then told his employee to pull the gates closed and shut down for the night.

Police told CBC News they received a complaint that Hoyles was in violation of his parole conditions from Correctional Services Canada and that they went to the arena around 5:30 p.m. Saturday to make the arrest.

Hoyles is in custody, police said.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the RNC said no charges have been laid.

'Serious sexual assaults'

Hoyles appealed his 2016 conviction and sentence.

It was his second trial on the charges, after a first conviction in 2014 was overturned because of a legal error.

His appeal was dismissed by Justice Lois Hoegg, who wrote in her decision: "Given that he was convicted of two separate, serious sexual assaults of a 14-year-old girl, as well as threatening her and her family if she disclosed the assaults, his sentence of three and one half years, while at the low end of the range, was not unfit."

Hillyer said nothing about Hoyles put up any red flags, and he didn't look into Hoyles's background when he hired him.

"We do a character reference check, we do an employment check. We ask a series of questions in an interview, as anybody would ask. Nothing had come up. It was treated no differently than we would treat any other prospective person who we were hiring," he said.

We're 10 years old, this is the first time that any incident like this has ever happened.- Scott Hillyer

There is a minor working at Coffee Matters and Hoyles sometimes worked with her, Hillyer said, but he didn't hear any complaints about Hoyles' behaviour.

"We haven't been made aware of anything," Hillyer said.

"That individual worked with my daughter. My daughter has worked for our company, she's now 20. I have a text message from her saying, 'Dad, he's probably one of the best cooks we ever hired.'"

Coffee Matters operates a number of cafes on the Avalon Peninsula. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Changing the hiring process

Hillyer said Hoyles was terminated from his post at Coffee Matters "five minutes after he was out through the door."

He also gathered his remaining employees together for a meeting about the situation, he said, offering to set up any counselling appointments.

The mother of his young staff member was at the meeting, he said.

The experience has changed Coffee Matters' hiring process, Hillyer said.

Staff will now have to obtain certificates of conduct and undergo a vulnerable sector check by police, he said.

"We're 10 years old, this is the first time that any incident like this has ever happened."

The Town of Paradise told CBC News it would not be commenting as the arena's cafe is independently owned.

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated that police said the matter was under investigation. Police do not comment on the status of investigations.
    Feb 13, 2019 1:36 PM NT