An Alberta MP has introduced a private member’s bill named after a slain RCMP officer to ensure bail hearings have an accused’s criminal history.
Const. David Wynn, who was 42, was shot and killed in January at a casino in St. Albert, north of Edmonton.
The shooter, Shawn Maxwell Rehn, was out on bail facing 15 charges, including escaping lawful custody, possession of a prohibited firearm and failure to show up to a previous bail hearing on the charges.
Rehn was found dead in an apparent suicide later on the day of the shooting.
The proposed law by Independent MP Brent Rathgeber would make it mandatory for prosecutors to present an accused’s entire criminal history before a justice of the peace at a bail hearing.
Rathgeber says the public is put at risk by that information not being put before the court.
Private member’s bills rarely make it into law.
Wynn’s widow, Shelley MacInnis Wynn, says her husband, being a police officer was an easy target, but others could have been injured.
“There were so many other people who could have been injured that night, could have been killed and even on a daily basis there are so many like Shawn Rehn who are walking the streets now,” she said.
Rehn, 34, fired on Wynn and an auxiliary officer investigating a stolen truck parked outside a St. Albert casino. At the time Rehn was facing 15 charges, including escaping lawful custody, possession of a prohibited firearm and failure to show up to a bail hearing for the charges.
Court records show it was an Edmonton police officer standing in for the Crown who consented to Rehn’s release.
Documents show Rehn was a violent criminal, in and out of jail over the last 15 years, with 57 convictions for crimes including assaults, break-ins and drug use. A transcript of his final bail hearing mentioned how Rehn was wanted on outstanding warrants and was prohibited from possessing weapons, but makes no mention of his numerous past convictions or his two federal stints in prison.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson was one of the first to question why Rehn was still on the streets. He said he had never seen such a complex criminal record.
The Edmonton Police Service says officers conducted 15,441 bail hearings last year — an average of 41 a day.
The service says officers are trained by more experienced veterans to prepare them for the bail process. But often they are legally outgunned.
The Edmonton force has said it has asked for Crown prosecutors to take over all bail hearings since 2006. Outside of a pilot project in 2008, the provincial government has refused that request.
(CHED, The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press