Canada’s top court has mercifully put an end to the Shafia family charade of innocence claims and birthdate uncertainty. The Supreme Court of Canada announced today (April 13, 2017) that it will not hear the appeal of Hamed Shafia (inset), who claimed he wasn’t 18 years old at the time he and his father and mother murdered four other family members, including three of Hamed’s five sisters. In essence, the court declared that the Shafias are mass murderers and liars, and that’s the end of it. They no longer have any legal recourse. The decision follows the unanimous rejection by Ontario’s top court of appeals by the trio.
Muhammad Parvez, who strangled his 16-year-old daughter Aqsa (inset) to death because of his distorted belief that she had tarnished his family honour, has died in prison. His death comes nearly a decade after the murder that became a flashpoint for a national debate about cultural traditions imported to Canada by newcomers. “I killed my daughter. . . with my hands,” Parvez said, in a 911 call placed minutes after the murder in the Parvez home in Mississauga, Ontario in December 2007. The Parvez case sparked a sustained and furious national debate about the spread of misogynistic and patriarchal practices that put women and girls at risk of violence and death, though there had been many such murders dating back decades before Aqsa’s death. The debate intensified two years after Aqsa’s death, when four members of the Shafia family were murdered in June 2009 in Kingston, Ontario in a mass honour killing – the case that is the focus of my true crime book, Without Honour: The True Story of the Shafia Family and the Kingston Canal Murders.
A Calgary murder case has established a significant Canadian precedent. For the first time, a multiple murderer has been sentenced to 75 years in prison without parole eligibility in a case in which the bodies of the victims were not found. A judge imposed the crushing penitentiary term – three consecutive life sentences – on Douglas Garland (inset) in February 2017, after he was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin Liknes, 66, and Kathy Liknes, 53. Only a handful of Canadian killers have been sentenced to prison terms longer than 25 years, under changes to criminal law that came into force in 2011.
More than 40 years after Richard Ambrose (inset) was sentenced to hang for murdering two New Brunswick police officers, he is continuing to deny that he shot the victims. At a hearing in British Columbia this month, Ambrose, 68, told the parole board that he was only hired to “bury something” – he just didn’t know ‘something’ was the bodies of two policemen, Const. Michael O’Leary and Cpl. Aurele Bourgeois of the Moncton police department. At a hearing February 1 (read parole document, after the jump), the board refused Ambrose’s bid for full parole, noting that in the past year he has becoming increasingly hostile with prison staff and he was charged twice with breaking prison rules. Ambrose, who has changed his name to Bergeron, was ordered to remain behind bars in B.C.
Canada’s worst rapist, a serial predator who may have assaulted more than 1,000 women, is free from prison and one of the investigators who caught him is certain he’ll strike again. But Selva Subbiah, 56, (inset) should not pose a threat in Canada. He’s being deported to his native Malaysia. Subbiah was caught more than 25 years ago because of the dogged work of police investigators who amassed a mountain of evidence that sent him to prison for nearly a quarter century. His penitentiary sentence in Canada expired January 29, 2017. Subbiah is an unrepentant manipulator and liar who insists that he presents “zero risk” to reoffend. Experts who have examined him conclude that he poses a high risk to commit more, violent sex crimes, despite treatment he’s undergone while behind bars. He was repeatedly denied parole because of the undiminished danger he poses. Subbiah was caught in 1991 by Brian Thomson and Peter Duggan, investigators in the Toronto police department. In the podcast (after the jump), Thomson recounts in detail how he and his partner ensnared Subbiah with an undercover operation and located a trove of evidence that was key to Subbiah’s conviction and lengthy sentence.
(UPDATE – Feb. 1, 2017: As expected, Subbiah was ordered deported after an immigration and refugee board hearing.)
(SECOND UPDATE – Feb. 7, 2017: As I tweeted yesterday, Subbiah was flown to Malaysia, under guard, on Feb. 6)
Nearly 10 years after Afghan native Mohammad Shafia brought his 10-member family to Canada, Ontario’s top court ruled that the controlling and abusive father got a fair trial when he was convicted, along with his second wife and eldest son, of murdering four family members. Shafia, his wife Tooba and son Hamed were not victims of prejudice and are not entitled to new trials, the Court of Appeal for Ontario says, in a judgment released today (Nov. 2, 2016). The three were each convicted in January 2012 of four counts of first-degree murder. Sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, Geeti 13 and Rona Amir, 50, who was Shafia’s first wife in the polygamous family, were found dead June 30, 2009, inside a sunken car resting at the bottom of a shallow canal in Kingston, in eastern Ontario.
Killer James Giff convinced the parole board he’s not a threat to reoffend if given the least restrictive form of freedom from prison but, in an unusual step, the board barred the murderer from accessing social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Giff, who raped and stabbed a 16-year-old girl, then left her to die in a snowbank, was granted full parole, a form of early release from penitentiary that permits him to live on his own, without direct daily supervision. It’s a big step for a criminal once classified as a sadist, and who spent most of the past 30 years behind bars. The parole board decided, after a hearing July 7, that Giff won’t present an “undue risk to society” but it imposed several special conditions on his full parole (read them all in the parole document, after the jump). Giff has been living and working in Montreal.
A psychopathic sex offender has been set free again in British Columbia, after being briefly detained, despite the revelation that he was “harassing a vulnerable female” near the halfway house where he’s under supervision and other troubling discoveries. Authorities expressed “significant concern” after learning that Donald Gazley (inset) secretly struck up a pen-pal relationship with a female sex offender in a U.S. prison – a woman who helped a man abuse her daughters. Gazley has a three-decades long criminal record that includes sex crimes against children and vulnerable adults and a conviction for involvement in a murder. He appears to be a rare and particularly dangerous offender – a sexual psychopath who preys on children and adults, male and female. Most offenders like him resist treatment and never stop committing crimes.
Is a witness to evil, who does not intervene, culpable or guilty only of cowardice? Annette Rogers has been to this precipice. Her scarred conscience reflects her failure. She did not do the difficult thing, the right thing. If Rogers had, 16-year-old Heather Fraser (inset) might have survived her encounter with a killer. Fraser was raped and stabbed by James Harold Giff on a cold Monday evening, January 28, 1985, in Smiths Falls, a small town in eastern Ontario on the historic Rideau waterway. Rogers was Giff’s girlfriend at the time. For nearly 25 years, she kept a terrible secret about the murder, until she spoke to me in 2009 (the podcast, after the jump, features her interview). Rogers revealed that she was taken by Giff on the night of the murder – in an act that would forever bind her to that night’s horror – to the snowy park where he had left his victim after raping her and stabbing her twice. Heather wasn’t dead. Bleeding profusely, she was crawling on her hands and knees through nearly two foot deep snow toward a nearby street. Rogers says she heard – but could not see in the dark – Heather’s faint cries for help. Rogers did not do the right thing. She did not run to Heather’s aid, or call police or for an ambulance. She agreed with Giff’s demand for silence, and assistance. She became, for a time, an accomplice. Heather was found hours after she was attacked and was rushed to hospital where she later died. Rogers says her inaction stemmed from fear that Giff would kill her. He had threatened her many times in their abusive relationship, she says. After Giff was jailed for Heather’s murder, Giff warned Rogers that he would hunt her down after release and kill her. This lingering threat has driven Rogers, in an act of self flagellation, to attend every one of Giff’s parole hearings, to listen over and over again to the sordid details of his crimes, and to plead with authorities not to free him. Giff was granted day parole to a halfway house in Montreal in January 2015, but nine months later, his release was suspended, then reinstated. Corrections Canada, which was responsible for supervising Giff’s freedom, refused, at the time, to disclose why Giff’s parole was suspended. Recently, the Parole Board of Canada released documents (read them after the jump) that reveal Giff had a “change of attitude” that sparked concern.
NOTE: This is an updated version of a story first published in 2009. It includes new information, new documents and a new podcast that includes portions of my recorded interview with Annette Rogers not previously released.
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.
(UPDATE: May 21, 2016: The minister said no to the demand for an inquiry)