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Homolka now free without conditions

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | 7:13 PM ET

A Quebec Superior Court judge on Wednesday lifted all restrictions imposed on Karla Homolka, saying there is not enough evidence to justify them.

Fourteen restrictions had been imposed on Homolka under Sec. 810 of the Criminal Code after a lower court judge ruled she still posed a risk to the community.

Karla Homolka (file photo courtesy SRC)
Karla Homolka (file photo courtesy SRC)

But Justice James Brunton overturned those restrictions, meaning Homolka will no longer be prohibited from associating with criminals, working in a place where she would be in a position of authority over anyone under age 16, possessing a controlled substance, or contacting her former husband, convicted killer Paul Bernardo.

She is also permitted to contact the families of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, the two Ontario teenagers she and Bernardo were convicted of kidnapping, torturing and killing in the early 1990s.

The ruling means Homolka does not have to tell police where she lives or works, or notify them if she plans to move.

Tim Danson, the lawyer for the French and Mahaffy families, said his clients are "deeply disappointed" in the ruling.

"The shock, disbelief and anguish they expressed to me over the phone was painful to hear," said Danson. Debbie Mahaffy said she feels like she's been "kicked in the stomach," he said.

Lower court erred: judge

Homolka's lawyers had argued that she had served her 12-year sentence and that the restrictions, imposed by Quebec Court Judge Jean R. Beaulieu in July, were punitive.

Brunton agreed, saying that evidence presented to the lower court judge in July was insufficient, and failed to prove that Homolka was a serious and imminent risk to public safety.

Beaulieu was confronted with a difficult and complex case and was acting under the pressure of time, said Brunton, who concluded that the lower court got the ruling wrong.

One problem with the evidence was a psychiatric test performed on Homolka, said Brunton. He says the physician incorrectly used the test and wrongly concluded that Homolka has a psychopathic personality.

"The possibility that Ms. Teale (a surname Homolka has gone by) might reoffend one day cannot be completely eliminated," wrote the judge. "However, her development over the last 12 years demonstrates, on a balance of probabilities, that this is unlikely to occur. She does not represent a real and imminent danger to commit a personal injury offence."

Danson said the judge was extremely thorough in his judgment, but erred in his interpretation of dangerousness under the Criminal Code. The notion that Homolka does not pose a risk to the public is "unacceptable" to the families, he said.

The families believe the public is at risk now that Homolka is unrestricted in the community, and are urging the attorney general of Quebec to appeal the decision, he said.

Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant said he hopes an appeal will go ahead.

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