The inside story of how dogged cops caught Canada’s worst rapist

Selva SubbiahThis post includes a podcastCanada’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)

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Witness to murder: “I will always blame myself”

Heather FraserThis post includes a podcastIs 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.

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Prison service can’t contain spending or limit inmate deaths, report shows

Howard Sapers, correctional investigatorpodcast.labelDespite an enormous infusion of cash in the past decade, the agency that runs the country’s penitentiaries has failed to deliver on longstanding promises to reduce prisoner deaths and has failed to limit critical security incidents that endanger staff and inmates, a newly released report card on the operations of Correctional Service of Canada reveals. “I continue to be very frustrated that CSC continues to deal with deaths in custody as sort of one-off events and not paying enough attention to the patterns and the common issues that contribute,” says Howard Sapers (inset), the federal correctional investigator. (Hear the full interview with Sapers, after the jump, in Episode 1 of the Cancrime podcast).

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Former thief orchestrates ‘Christmas break-in’ that gives

This post includes a podcastRobin Marc SmithRobin Marc Smith (inset, 2007 booking photo) had a 30-year career as a Grinch – and he was remarkably good at it – so it’s surprising to see him don a Santa hat so that he can break, enter and give. Smith organized a charity event in a small eastern Ontario town in which a band of holiday ‘bandits’ broke into the house of a needy family. The group of about a dozen people knew the single mom wasn’t home because she had taken her two young children to visit a mall Santa. The group left gifts and $500 cash behind and no clue to their identity. Local media around Tweed, a small village 200 kilometres east of Toronto, reported the feel-good story but with no mention of Smith’s infamous past. Smith tells me (hear the full interview after the jump), that everyone in the Tweed area knows about his past.

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Williams case “extraordinarily unusual,” defence lawyer says

Russell WilliamsThis post includes a podcastCriminal defence lawyers Michael Edelson and his partner Vince Clifford took extraordinary precautions in the handling of the sensational sex-murder case of Russell Williams. I had a chance to interview the veteran Ottawa lawyers who defended Williams, the former airbase commander who pleaded guilty to raping and murdering two women. The revelations from the lawyers form the core of a feature story that I wrote for Canadian Lawyer magazine.

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