'It's rattled some nerves': police advisory puts real-estate agents on edge

Real-estate agents are on edge in the wake of police advisories about a man once accused of being the so-called 'sleepwatcher,' according to the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Realtors.

RNC believes accused ‘sleepwatcher’ Barry Sinclair will commit violent offence in St. John's

Barry Edward Sinclair is pictured at provincial court in St. John's on Oct. 2, 2017. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is seeking a rare type of peace bond against Sinclair, over fears that he "will commit a serious personal injury offence." (Cal Tobin/CBC)

Real-estate agents are on edge in the wake of police advisories about a man with a long criminal history now living in St. John's.

That's according the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Realtors.

"Particularly the strength of the language coming from the RNC about this guy and his history and his potential to re-offend," Bill Stirling told the St. John's Morning Show on Wednesday.

"So it's rattled some nerves for sure."

Accused of being Halifax 'sleepwatcher'

Barry Edward Sinclair was found not guilty in 2012 of voyeurism charges related to the so-called Halifax "sleepwatcher" case.

But a Nova Scotia judge convicted Sinclair of another break-in, and sentenced him to five years imprisonment. He's served that time, and was released from custody in February.

Sinclair's criminal history dates back to 1980, and includes five federal prison terms.

He now lives in St. John's.

Earlier this month, CBC News revealed that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is worried that he will re-offend, and has gone to court to get a rare type of peace bond against Sinclair, to restrict his movements.

A hearing will be held in January on the RNC's application. In the interim, Sinclair signed an undertaking, agreeing to abide by more than a dozen conditions.

One of those conditions is refraining from contact with female real estate agents.

'Very easy target'

Stirling said that set off alarm bells.

"Our members work in an industry where they promote themselves as well as the properties that they're looking to sell," he said.

"Some of our members are very, very visible. They're very active on Facebook, they're very active on social media, their faces in print, in the newspaper. So it makes them a very easy target for somebody like this guy. So I think that gives us some concern."

Bill Stirling, pictured in a Jan. 30, 2017, file photo, is CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Realtors. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Stirling said the realtors' association and police have since had a number of discussions.

He said he can't comment specifically on what information the RNC has that led to that condition being included in Sinclair's undertaking.

Last year, Sinclair breached the terms of his conditional release, and was sent back to jail.

According to Parole Board of Canada records obtained by CBC News, when halfway house staff collected his personal items, they "found a box containing various items which caused concern."

That included "photos of women and girls and news articles regarding murders of female victims."

Asked whether there is a connection between that and the current condition prohibiting contact with female real-estate agents, Stirling said: "Given the nature of our industry and how our members put themselves out there and promote themselves, I think it's a reasonable assumption that there would be some pictures."

CBC News asked Sinclair to comment on the police advisories, but he declined an interview.

Safety session planned

There are about 700 members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Realtors — roughly half of them women.

The group has organized a safety session with police for Monday. It's the third such event this year.

"This is an issue really broadly about workplace safety," Stirling said.

"We live in an era where there's a strong focus on workplace safety cultures in every industry across the country. As an industry association it's important to us that our members are safe in their workplace. And their workplace changes from minute to minute, hour to hour, every day."

With files from Krissy Holmes