Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning

Parole denied for convicted killer-rapist Paul Bernardo after 25 years in prison

Paul Bernardo plead for release on Wednesday by arguing he has done what he could to improve himself during his 25 years in prison.

Serial rapist and killer Paul Bernardo was swiftly denied parole on Wednesday after a panel heard impassioned pleas from the parents of two of his murder victims to keep him behind bars.

Bernardo, 54, who has spent 25 years in prison and argued he has worked hard to mend his ways, could make another bid for release in two years.

“I’m a very flawed person. I know I’m not perfect,” Bernardo told the panel that spent about 30 minutes deliberating his request for parole. “What I did was so dreadful. I hurt a lot of people. I cry all the time.”

At the same time, Bernardo was adamant he would never reoffend.

“I’m so nice to everybody,” he said. ”Everybody is scared but there is no reason to be scared.”

Bernardo’s crimes over several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some of which he videotaped, sparked widespread terror and revulsion.

Among them, Bernardo and his then-wife Karla Homolka kidnapped, tortured and killed Leslie Mahaffy, 14, of Burlington, Ont., in June 1991 at their home in Port Dalhousie, Ont., before dismembering her body, encasing her remains in cement and dumping them in a nearby lake.

Mahaffy’s mother, Debbie Mahaffy, described the unbearable, crushing pain the parole hearing rekindled, saying the “unspeakable and brutally sadistic acts” Bernardo committed were too painful to describe.

“This is an emotional hell for us,” Mahaffy said at the hearing, choking back tears.

Related: Killer-rapist Paul Bernardo set to make parole pitch today

Related: Convicted killer Paul Bernardo faces weapons possession charge

Bernardo, dressed in a blue T-shirt, slouched in his chair and listened with little obvious emotion, although at times he became animated when he spoke and dabbed at his eyes with a hastily proffered tissue while talking about his father.

Dubbed the “Scarborough rapist,” Bernardo also tortured and killed Kristen French, 15, of St. Catharines, Ont., in April 1992 after keeping her captive for three days.

Kristen’s mother, Donna French, argued that Bernardo should never see freedom again.

“How does one describe such immeasurable pain so as to give even the slightest understanding of the overwhelming sadness, the emptiness, and pain we feel even after 26 years of dealing with our loss?” French said.

French also noted that the law was changed after Bernardo’s incarceration to allow for consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.

One of Bernardo’s surviving victims also spoke at the hearing, describing how she was walking home on an evening in May 1988 when he attacked her from behind, dragged her into some bushes and raped her. The result has been emotional devastation from which she has never recovered, she said.

“After the assault, I really became a shell of a person,” she said. “He should never be considered for any freedom for the rest of his life.”

While his parole officer said Bernardo had made minimal gains during his time behind bars, the lifer portrayed himself as someone whose self-esteem was damaged as a child by a speech impediment. He felt increasingly inadequate, he said, adding he was afraid to interact with people. Social anxiety, he said, became sexual — he fretted constantly about being unable to perform.

“The more insecure I felt, the more I tried to control,” he said. “My self-esteem would get better that way.”

Bernardo, who admitted raping 14 other women, was also convicted of manslaughter in the December 1990 death of Homolka’s younger sister, Tammy. The 15-year-old girl died after the pair drugged and sexually assaulted her. Homolka later said she wanted Bernardo to have Tammy’s virginity as a Christmas present.

Bernardo said he was completely shattered by Tammy’s death, which only exacerbated his low self-esteem and led to his increasingly savage attacks on women and girls.

“I hurt a lot of people,” he said. “I absolutely did and this is why I cry.”

“Would you say you used women as objects?” Suzanne Poirier, one of the two Parole Board of Canada members hearing the case, asked him at one point.

“Back then, absolutely,” he responded.

“How has this changed?” Poirier inquired.

“I over-used sex and that led to those cognitive distortions,” Bernardo said.” I overly based my self-esteem on sex.”

Bernardo denied that he’s a sadistic psychopath, although he admitted he felt nothing for his victims at the time he committed his crimes. It was all a matter of asserting power and control in an effort to give his fragile ego a boost, he said.

Poirier said Bernardo’s empathy seemed to be recent.

Parole officer Meagan Smith said Bernardo had “low integration potential.” Though low risk for violence in general, his risk increases when it comes to intimate partners, she said.

His lawyer, Fergus (Chip) O’Connor, said Bernardo has aged into a low-risk demographic when it comes to sexual offences. While the perspective of victims must be heard, he said their views could not be determinative.

Bernardo’s parents, whom he described as wonderful and supportive through his childhood, visit him in prison and have offered support if he is released, O’Connor said. They did not attend the hearing.

Colin Perkel , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

UVic students return from Hong Kong amidst growing tension

All eight University of Victoria exchange students have returned to Canada

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

Victoria residents face long holds for non-emergency police calls

Victoria police face challenges ‘on many fronts’ since switching to E-Comm call centre

ICBC, province urge residents to plan ahead for winter weather

Greater Victoria should gear up and have a plan in place

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Canucks erupt with 5 power-play goals in win over Nashville

Vancouver ends three-game slide with 6-3 triumph over Predators

Nanaimo man caught with more than 200,000 child porn images to be sentenced

Crown says Aaron Macrae recorded video of children on buses and at his workplace

Vancouver Island hunters may have harvested deer in area known for chronic wasting disease

Conservation officers make urgent request to public for any information

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Most Read