What’s a zip gun? You’ll get a detailed explanation if you go to work in Canada’s penitentiary system where a working zip gun – a homemade handgun – is a dreaded weapon behind bars. Small, lethal, easily concealed and assembled from common materials, a zip gun transforms any convict into a killer capable of murdering a prison worker, a fellow inmate or leading a riot, hostage taking or escape attempt. For these reasons, Corrections Canada offers new recruits a detailed explanation how zip guns can be manufactured and assembled by prisoners (after the jump, see the zip gun assembly photo montage that appears in a CSC training manual) and what the disassembled components look like.
A onetime minister of justice in Quebec is lending his voice to demands from the families of murder victims in cases that have long been unsolved. Lawyer Marc Bellemare sent a letter to the province’s public security minister, asking for an inquiry over claims by the families that police have badly mishandled investigations, blocked their access to information and failed to co-operate. Research by John Allore, whose sister Theresa was murdered in 1978, is a principal reason that the issue has been pushed into the spotlight. Allore has, for more than a decade, meticulously researched more than 20 unsolved murders from the 1970s and 80s in Quebec, including his sister’s unsolved case. He has uncovered links that police failed to find and he has exposed police missteps in many investigations. Allore charges, in a series of posts on his website, that police are “completely incompetent.” Allore explains the police failures he has uncovered in Episode 5 of the Cancrime podcast.
Police in Quebec have long been among the worst* in Canada at solving murders. Now, one man – bolstered by decades of meticulous research – is challenging this futility with a demand for an inquiry and the formation of a cross-departmental, province-wide cold case squad. John Allore charges that Quebec police are “completely incompetent.” He knows this, he says, because of his dogged research into more than 20 unsolved killings from the 1970s and 80s, including the murder of his 19-year-old sister Theresa. Allore says police deliberately refused to investigate those cases, so he did. Allore uncovered glaring failures in the investigation of Theresa’s November 1978 murder in a small community 150 kilometres east of Montreal. Police wrongly first labelled her death an accident or suicide, fumbled the search for missing clothing and possessions and later discarded important physical evidence that could help identify her killer. More than 37 years after Theresa was killed, the unsolved murder has just been added to the website of the Quebec provincial police force’s cold case unit, thanks to John Allore’s persistence. But he’s not done. Allore (hear him in the Cancrime podcast, after the jump) is pressing for co-operation among departments with unsolved cases that could be connected. His remarkable research and sharp criticism have attracted the attention of senior police officials in Quebec and given hope to families of other victims.
The Federal Court of Canada has thrown out the claim of an imprisoned double cop killer that he’s been defrauded by Corrections Canada and has ordered him to pay $150 to cover CSC’s legal costs. Protonothary Roger Lafrenière cited “radical deficiencies” in Richard Ambrose’s two-paragraph statement of claim and noted that it contained only “bald allegations of fraud and legal conclusions.” Ambrose filed it in January 2016, alleging that Corrections Canada improperly withheld money from him each month for room and board, beginning in October 2010, while he was confined in prisons in Alberta and B.C. Ambrose, who changed his name to Bergeron after his imprisonment for the cold-blooded murders of two Moncton, N.B. police officers in 1974, is well known to prison workers and parole authorities as a bitter, confrontational and sometimes aggressive complainer.
Former radio star Jian Ghomeshi (inset) is not guilty of four sexual assaults and one charge of choking, a judge in Toronto ruled today, citing the “deceptive and manipulative” evidence of his accusers. The charges were laid against the former CBC personality after allegations that he assaulted three women between 2002 and 2003. The judge in the sensational case, William Horkins, made it clear in his ruling (read complete decision after the jump) that a finding of “not guilty” doesn’t mean the incidents didn’t happen. Horkins wrote that his finding “is not the same as deciding in any positive way that these events never happened.” But Horkins had harsh criticism for the accusers, saying he found it impossible to have “sufficient faith in the reliability or sincerity of these complainants.”
We may never know exactly how many times Melissa Ann Shephard (inset) has killed. In a criminal career that spans five decades, Shephard has sown confusion, obfuscated with layers of lies and masqueraded as a victim. The criminal justice system, unable to affix the damning labels she may deserve – serial killer, psychopath – continues to turn her loose to kill again and struggles to contain her. She has learned from her criminal mistakes and profited from her predation. Infamous as the ‘Internet Black Widow,’ Shephard was released Friday (March 18, 2016) from a women’s prison in Nova Scotia – amid a police warning – after her latest stint behind bars, a three-and-a-half year sentence. It was imposed in 2013 after she admitting spiking drinks of her newlywed fifth husband, 74-year-old Fred Weeks, with potent tranquilizers. An attempted murder charge was dropped when Shephard pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Two of Shephard’s four husbands who preceded Weeks ended up dead and another mysteriously fell ill immediately after meeting Shephard. Recent prison assessments (read what experts say, in internal documents after the jump) warn that Shephard scores high for some psychopathic traits, she is resistant to treatment and indifferent to the suffering of her victims. The only thing that has contained her lethal greed in the past 40+ years has been time behind bars and yet, the system has refused to apply the brand that could keep her locked up.
Canadians spent $2.5 billion last year to operate the country’s penitentiary system, so you’d expect they’d be entitled to timely information about how it’s functioning. They’re not getting it. A key report on the operation of Correctional Service of Canada was suppressed by the previous Conservative regime and was withheld from public release by the new Liberal government for five months. The annual report of correctional investigator Howard Sapers, an ombudsman who is mandated by law to investigate prisoner complaints, was released publicly yesterday (March 10), nine months after Sapers gave it to Conservative Public Safety Minster Steven Blaney.
Psychopath and sex predator Don Gazley – who is profiled in Episode 4 of the podcast – is back behind bars, weeks after he was released from a federal institution in British Columbia, Cancrime learned. “Don Gazley is currently in custody at a federal institution,” Jean-Paul Lorieau, a B.C.-based spokesman for Correctional Service of Canada told me today (March 10). Lorieau won’t say why Gazley’s release was revoked. Gazley was deemed a high risk to commit new sex crimes against children so he was kept locked up until he had served every day of his last sentence, an eight-year term for sex crimes committed in Ontario.
There may be 3,500 psychopaths behind bars in Canada’s prisons, roughly one quarter the male penitentiary population, according to researchers. They are conscienceless predators and manipulators driven only by a desire for self-gratification. Until recently, Don Gazley (inset) was among them. Gazley (listen to him, after the jump, in manipulation mode, in Episode 4 of the Cancrime podcast) has a two-decade history of sex crimes and involvement in a murder. He’s been diagnosed a “classic psychopath” who poses a high risk to commit new sex crimes. Yet Gazley was released in early January from a penitentiary in British Columbia, in part, because the top legal official in Ontario, where he was last sentenced, chose not to seek to keep him locked up forever through a dangerous offender designation. Gazley’s treatment by the criminal justice system isn’t unusual. A Canadian expert on psychopaths, forensic psychologist Stephen Porter, says the system must take psychopathy “much more seriously.” His research reveals that, although psychopathy is one of the most powerful predictors of criminal recidivism, psychopaths win conditional release 2.5 times more often than non psychopaths.
The three convicted Shafia family killers want new trials and Hamed Shafia, the youngest of the trio, wants to be retried or, at least, re-sentenced, as a youth. A panel of judges of Ontario’s top court is grappling with these demands following a two-day hearing this week in Toronto at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The judges reserved judgment. There’s no timetable for a decision from the court. I think it’s unlikely the Shafias will be successful, on any of their grounds, because, as with some of their outlandish claims during their murder trial, they just can’t be believed.