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Crown wants four years for AWOL high-risk B.C. child sex offender

Randall Hopley failed to return to his Vancouver halfway house on Nov. 4. He was missing for 10 days before turning himself in because he was cold.

A high-risk B.C. child sex offender who breached a long-term supervision order and went missing for 10 days in 2023 should be jailed for four years, a Vancouver Provincial Court judge heard April 26.

Randall Hopley, 58, pleaded guilty to four counts of breach of a long-term supervision order and failing to appear.

Crown prosecutor Jacinta Lawton told Judge Jennifer Oulton that Hopley failed to return to his Vancouver halfway house, the Salvation Army's Harbour Light facility, on Nov. 4. His electronic ankle monitoring bracelet was removed at Vancouver’s Main Street and East 8th Avenue. A Canada-wide warrant was subsequently issued.

He was missing for 10 days, a period that saw intense media coverage and wide public concern. The bracelet was never found.

Police believed he was attempting to avoid a trial on Nov. 6 for allegedly breaching a 10-year supervision order. Another warrant was issued when he failed to attend court.

Hopley turned himself in at the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) building on East Cordova Street in the Downtown Eastside shortly after 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14. He told police it was too cold to remain on the streets.

“Going AWOL is a very serious breach,” Lawton told Oulton of the long-term sentence order handed down in November 2018.

“Mr. Hopley has proven quite impervious to efforts to rehabilitate him in the community,” Lawton said, adding he has “a disturbing record of offending against children.”

She said he is a high risk for sexual recidivism and has a history of breaching court orders.

It was Lawton who suggested the four-year sentence to Oulton while defence lawyer Bobby Movassaghi suggested two years.

Oulton reserved her decision, asking lawyers to find time after May 15 for her to deliver her decision.

At library during children story time

While Hopley has had problems with two long-term supervision orders, one November 2022 case involved him going to the Vancouver Public Library Marpole branch. He was being followed by a police officer.

The constable saw Hopley enter the library and go directly to a computer terminal and begin using it, something he is barred from doing.

While on the computer, he was looking at ads and a website involving a 10-year-old boy.

The library was holding a children’s story hour at the time, meaning Hopley was in breach of a condition he stay away from children and not use devices to connect to the internet.

“Mr. Hopley knowingly put himself within feet of young children,” Lawton said. “He could not have not heard them.” 

Hopley was soon arrested.

Lawton told court the library visit was indicative of Hopley’s penchant to plan things given he needed to have a library card to get on the computer.

But, added Movassaghi, “no on called to say Mr. Hopley was behaving inappropriately.”

“There was zero evidence he ever looked in (the children’s) direction,” Movassaghi said.

At the time he went missing, Lawton noted Hopley had packed up his room at his Cordova Street residence.

“He plans what he does,” Lawton said. “There’s a certain element of opportunism.”

A November 2022 search of the room had earlier found women’s underwear and sex toys despite Hopley having told his court-ordered supervisor he had no sex drive.

Abduction of three-year-old boy

Back in 2011, he abducted a three-year-old boy from his home in Sparwood in southeastern B.C. and was released with conditions under a long-term supervision order. Hopley held the boy captive in a cabin for four days before returning him unharmed. 

Hopley completed a six-year prison term for the incident.

He was arrested in January 2023 for allegedly breaching those conditions by visiting a library and getting too close to children and was released on bail. 

In 2008, Hopley was convicted of breaking and entering into a home and removing a child from his foster family. He was also convicted of sexual assault of a five-year-old boy and assault of a woman in a parking lot, Lawton said.

At mention of the five-year-old, the peace of the courtroom was broken as Hopley said, “that is false. It’s wrong.”

‘Little to no gains’ with programs

Hopley has declined mental health supports but has participated in a sex offender program with a one-on-one program facilitator.

In a Canada Parole Board decision, it said Hopley’s final assessment showed he made "little to no gains."

The board describes him as a "repeat sex offender who has been identified to have pedophiliac tendencies and [has] been assessed as a generally high risk to reoffend sexually and a moderate risk for other types of offending."

Hopley was caught with a smartwatch that had internet capacity. The decision states Hopley said he found the watch and "did not know it had internet capacity."

“As the battery was dead, your explanation was accepted,” states the board’s decision. 

According to the board, Hopley has demonstrated a lack of insight into some of the key risk factors and has continued to engage in some high-risk behaviours. 

"While your cognitive challenges are noted, they do not explain your general resistant attitude and your unwillingness to seek out employment that could help you to spend your time in a more constructive manner,” states the decision. 

In 2018 and 2019, the board noted that "various concerning items" were found in his possession, including adult underclothes, pornography, a SIM card, sex toys and child-related items. 

They also discovered information that he accessed dating sites. 

Hopley was suspended with a board recommendation for the laying of charges. 

Hopley has a history of having angry outbursts at various staff and at his parole supervisor, according to the decision.

As part of his long-term supervision order, he has many conditions, including not being near children's areas. He must avoid children and respect a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and restrictions on pornography and the internet. 

With files from Alanna Kelly