Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka

End of the Road

As Karla Homolka was attempting to play down her "party girl" image, her former partner-in-crime, Paul Bernardo, lost out in his second appeal for a new trial. The high court did not give reasons for refusing to hear the appeal after Bernardo's lawyers had sought leave to appeal on the grounds that Judge Patrick LeSage erred at Bernardo's 1995 trial.

Bernardo's Toronto lawyer, Tony Bryant, said the dismissal virtually ends his client's legal recourse. "I believe that it exhausts all our options," he said.

The decision means that Bernardo, who is classified as a dangerous offender, will never be released from prison. Tim Danson, lawyer for the French and Mahaffy families, said there was great relief at the Supreme Court decision. "There is significant relief on behalf of the families," said Danson. He said the families knew that it was a long shot that the Supreme Court would overturn Bernardo's conviction, but he added that after "all that has happened," they take nothing for granted.

In contrast to Homolka's former living conditions, Paul Bernardo is housed in one of Canada's toughest maximum-security environments. He is locked up for 23 hours a day leaving no time for birthday cakes or dress-up parties simply because there is no opportunity for him to mingle with the other inmates. The prison, Kingston Penitentiary, is Canada's oldest and largest maximum-security institution, a foreboding place that conjures up images of the classic turn-of-the-century insane asylum. Often, in the various segregation units, called ranges, anguished cries of prisoners desperate for human contact can be heard echoing down the hallways as prisoners peer out of their cells hoping to catch a glimpse of visitors.

Kingston, considered by many in the department to be the "bottom of the barrel," is a difficult facility to run as many inmates have special mental or physical health needs and must be segregated from the general population. Bernardo lives in a tiny cell not much larger than the average domestic bathroom, equipped with a cot, desk and toilet.

A small outdoor yard off the range allows segregated prisoners to step outside for an hour of fresh air each day, which they can spend with other specific inmates, depending on their status. It is unknown what status Paul Bernardo currently enjoys.

In November, 2000 the Law Society of Upper Canada dropped a professional misconduct charge against lawyer Ken Murray putting an end to the ongoing sex-and-torture videotape furor. In addition, the society announced that it plans to draft new rules to govern how its members should handle incriminating evidence that might be beneficial to both sides.

Also in November, crown officials abandoned efforts to prosecute author Stephen Williams for allegedly viewing sex killer Paul Bernardo's notorious sex-and-torture videotapes. Williams was previously charged with disobeying a court order after detectives concluded that 27 passages in his book, Invisible Darkness, were so detailed that Williams had to have seen the restricted tapes.


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