GUNTER

Why was this man free?

By Lorne Gunter, Edmonton Sun

Shawn Matthew Rehn.

Shawn Matthew Rehn.

The one lesson that screams out from the weekend casino shooting of two Mounties in St. Albert, Alta., is just how porous our criminal justice system is.

Following the shooting, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson asked how it was possible that Shawn Matthew Rehn, the shooter of Const. David Wynn and Aux. Const. Derek Bond, was "walking amongst us?"

Sadly, tragically, Const. Wynn is on life support and his loved ones have said their goodbyes

The commissioner has to be polite in his tone. He has to retain a level of impartiality because he has to enforce the law evenly and he and his officers have to operate within the criminal justice system.

But the rest of us do not.

According to Alberta Justice, Shawn Rehn had a combined 98 convictions and outstanding charges against him - 98! And yet he was free to be at the tables at the Apex casino at 3 a.m. on Saturday when officers Wynn and Bond come by to investigate a stolen vehicle complaint.

Rehn had a gun despite what Comm. Paulson described as "multiple, overlapping, firearms prohibitions."

And Rehn had a handgun, which is hard to acquire legally even if you don't have a lifetime ban on possessing a firearm, which Rehn did.

So while Paulson may have to ask politely why Rehn was walking amongst us, the rest of us can be far more blunt: Who let this violent criminal with 98 convictions and outstanding charges walk our streets?

Which judge released him last despite his history of drug abuse, resisting arrest, domestic violence, home invasion, armed robberies, skipping out on bail and violating his parole conditions?

Which Crown prosecutor, if any, agreed to a plea deal rather than push for the full penalties Rehn's crimes warranted?

Just how broken is our criminal justice system when after 30 or 50 or 70 hard-core convictions nobody cries, "Enough! You've had your chance (and third and fourth and fifth chances). Time for you to go away for the rest of your life, or at least until you are very, very old -- too old to pose a threat to police and to the public?"

Where were the psychologists to diagnose that Rehn was incapable of rehabilitation, so he shouldn't be released?

How come no one had declared Rehn a dangerous offender and locked him away indefinitely?

Rehn's criminal record is not full of the worst crimes ever. No murders or attempted murders. Lots of thefts under $5,000 (and plenty over $5,000, too). Meth convictions. Dangerous driving again and again. And a ton of driving while suspended.

So you can just about see how a judge in each case might have thought light sentences and time served made sense. Just about, but not quite.

The overarching theme of Rehn's record was his utter contempt for judges, prosecutors and jailers.

He had at least 10 convictions for breaching court orders. He had escaped custody at least twice. He had ignored emergency protection orders to stay away from an ex and her child. And, of course, he had paid no attention to a judge's lifetime ban against possessing firearms.

It always amazes me that liberal politicians and judges can convince themselves that violent offenders who are prepared to ignore assault, robbery and even murder laws will somehow obey a piece of paper prohibiting them from driving, acquiring a black-market gun or harassing a partner.

The only way to stop a Shawn Rehn is to lock him away for a long time.

That is the kind of protection our frontline police officers deserve from the courts, and it is the protection ordinary citizens deserve, too.

lorne.gunter@sunmedia.ca

 


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions


Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »