Monday, December 21, 2009

How to prevent DV murders: improved policing, stricter bail (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

Dad PETER LEE murdered his wife, their 6-year-old child, and her parents back in 2007. As usual, there were lots of opportunities that could have been taken to prevent this atrocity. But the system dropped the ball, and left these people defenseless against this abusive whack-job with a PROVEN history of violence. If anything good is to come of these events, the system must be reformed. Number 1 on my list: Don't release these creeps on bail! What the hell do you think is going to happen after you let them out, all pissy and bent out of shape? There are lots of other good ideas that are suggested too. Now let's see if British Columbia just does the talk, or whether they do the walk.

Murder-suicide inquest: Jury recommends B.C. domestic violence unit, improved policing, stricter bail

Peter Lee was arrested for previously harming his wife Sunny Park but was released on bail.

By Cindy E. Harnett, Times Colonist
December 19, 2009

The province should set up a B.C.-wide domestic violence unit, slap GPS monitors on high-risk offenders on bail, and teach kids about family violence in schools starting in kindergarten.

Those are among the 14 recommendations handed down Friday by coroner’s inquest jurors who reviewed what happened in a multiple murder-suicide in Oak Bay two years ago.

On Sept. 4, 2007, Peter Lee stabbed to death his six-year-old child, wife and her parents before killing himself.

The 12-day inquest, which spanned nearly two years because of court battles, heard from 35 witnesses.

Lawyer Diane Turner, who represented the Ending Violence Association at the inquest, said she’s pleased with the recommendations. “I would hope that the deaths of five people in this fashion would motivate the government to really do something about this,” she said.

If the province backs the recommendations with funding, the capital region’s four municipal police forces and three RCMP detachments could form one domestic-violence unit.

That proposal by the Victoria Police Department in the wake of the murder-suicide has sat on a shelf waiting for approval from the region’s chiefs for two years. Tired of waiting, Victoria is set to roll out its own unit in January.

B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed said the Lee murder-suicide was “a terrible and tragic incident” and that he’ll ensure there is a specially trained domestic violence unit, or series of units, in the capital region.

“If I don’t see any movement there I will determine what I can do from my perspective to move it along,” Heed said in an interview.

The jury’s recommendations mirror a recent report by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s representative for children and youth, who concluded the province failed to protect six-year-old Christian Lee because of a fractured, underfunded and uncoordinated justice system.

Turpel-Lafond said she agrees with many of the jurors’ recommendations, including those for a B.C.-wide domestic violence unit, but warned the government can’t run the justice system “on the cheap.”

The inquest was delayed for 19 months after coroner Jeff Dolan requested that Crown prosecutors testify. Eventually, the courts ruled the prosecutors would not be forced to testify to protect their independence.

The jury also recommended standardized risk assessments be used by police and Crown prosecutors before bail is set and standardized domestic-violence training for all service providers in the justice system.

Lee was out on bail and under orders not to contact his wife when he broke into their home on King George Terrace about 3 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2007. He applied duct tape to the basement window to diminish the sound of breaking glass and crept in.
In a frenzied attack that took only minutes, he stabbed to death his son, his wife Sunny Park, and her parents Kum Lea Chun and Moon Kyu Park.

Lee then brought together the bloodied bodies of his wife and child, leaned over them, and plunged a knife into his heart. That day, Lee had been scheduled to appear in court to face assault charges on another matter. Christian Lee was to begin his first day in Grade 1.

The recommendations are:

To Solicitor General for B.C.

1. Continue unification efforts for various police departments.

2. Before release of high-risk accused on bail, properly screened and appropriate sureties but be provided.

3. All police dpeartments work across jurisdictional boundaries as one unit.

To Attorney General for B.C.

4. All victims and abusers should be provided with univerally available advocacy services. Such services to be intiated upon first contact.

5. Risk assessment be made at the front end of process before bail conditions set.