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Sechelt home invasion triggers dangerous offender classification

A 43-year-old man who invaded the home of an elderly woman in Sechelt in 1998 was recently declared a dangerous offender by a B.C. Supreme Court justice.

A 43-year-old man who invaded the home of an elderly woman in Sechelt in 1998 was recently declared a dangerous offender by a B.C. Supreme Court justice.

Michael Edward Kelly's history of violent and sexual offending led up to the Sechelt home invasion, after which the Crown applied for the dangerous offender designation. Dangerous offenders remain in prison indefinitely because of their high risk of re-offending.

Justice Barry Davies' May 16 decision is the most recent in a series of decisions and appeals that reached the Supreme Court of Canada level.

Kelly has been in custody the past eight years since the dangerous offender hearing arose from the Sechelt offence and charges from a 1991 sexual assault of a prostitute in Vancouver.

Kelly had pleaded guilty to charges of breaking and entering and robbery in 1998 for the Sechelt offence. According to Davies' decision, Kelly had knocked on a 78-year-old woman's door, asked for "Don" then asked to use the phone and eventually stepped through the door after the woman would not allow him in. He asked for money and got rough with the woman, gripping and shaking her until they wrestled. A further struggle ensued until she managed to jump out a window and call for help. Kelly fled and left his wallet behind. The woman suffered extensive abrasions and bruises, along with long-lasting emotional trauma, Davies said.

Davies noted Kelly's criminal record showed he was in jail or on probation for most of the years between the ages of 19 and 36, and that "rarely, if ever, since he turned 15, has Mr. Kelly not been subject to state control as a consequence of his criminal offending."

Davies found the offences were "serious personal injury offences" - a criteria for dangerous offender designation. "Mr. Kelly's risk to re-offend either sexually or violently or both renders the possibility of his eventual control in the community in the foreseeable future at best tenuous and at worst speculative," Davies decided. In 2000, a provincial court judge had declared Kelly a dangerous offender. Kelly won the appeal of the decision in 2002 because the judge had not considered whether he could be designated a long-term offender instead. The Crown then appealed that decision, along with four other cases, to the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the appeal court's decision, bringing the matter back to a new hearing to determine if Kelly qualified for long-term offender status instead of dangerous offender, which Davies then found he did not. A long-term offender receives a determinate sentence of at least two years then 10 years probation.

Kelly was sentenced to the Regional Treatment Centre in Abbotsford, where he will be classified and sent to a federal facility from there, according to Crown Counsel Mike Brundett. Whether he is released from his indeterminate sentence will be up to the Parole Board after seven years.

There are 373 dangerous offenders in Canada, according to the Correctional Service of Canada.

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