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Inquiry examines probation officer options for deceptive offenders

Basil Borutski apparently avoided revealing vital information to his probation officer, an inquest into three deaths in 2015 heard on Wednesday.

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The man who murdered three women in Renfrew County on the morning of September 15, 2015 was a manipulator.

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Twice previously convicted of domestic violence, Basil Borutski repeatedly dodged a court order requiring him to participate in the Partner Assault Response (PAR) program, telling his probation officer he had no transportation or that he suffered from anxiety.

Borutski also apparently avoided revealing vital information to his probation officer, an inquest into the three deaths heard Wednesday in Pembroke.

The probation officer’s case notes made no reference to Carol Culleton, the first victim of his murderous rampage. After Culleton’s death, Borutski traveled to Wilno and shot and killed Anastasia Kuzyk before traveling to Foymount Road, where he shot and killed Nathalie Warmerdam.

Borutski had been convicted of domestic violence against Kuzyk and Warmerdam and was known to police and other justice system officials for those two cases. He also had a history of disobeying court orders. But Culleton was not on their radar as being in danger.

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Borutski was found to be at high risk of recidivism as early as fall 2013. When he was released from prison in December 2014, following his conviction for a brutal attack on Kuzyk, Borutski had one of the highest scores high in domestic violence recidivism.

Questions were raised on Wednesday about how probation officers knew they had reached the right ‘collateral contacts’ – people who know an offender – to ensure the offender will not hurt more women.

Probation officers can contact anyone they deem helpful in ensuring an offender meets the conditions, from ex-partners to landlord, said Jamie Pearson, head of probation and parole quality assurance. for Eastern Ontario, during the survey.

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“We are always worried that they are not telling the truth,” he said in response to questions.

If his probation officer had known that an offender with a history of violence against women from Borutski was spending time at the Culleton cabin, the officer would have had reason to reach out to Culleton, said Pearson, who was probation officer for 11 years.

Failure to participate in the PAR program put Borutski in breach of court-ordered conditions. In 2015, a probation officer had five working days after confirming an offense to investigate and decide what action to take. When a domestic violence offender is deemed high risk, that process is expedited and the public safety of victims is considered, Pearson said.

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A probation officer’s actions with respect to a breach of conditions can range from documenting it in case notes to asking the Crown to consider a charge, he said. The idea is to use the least intensive method that does not expose the public to danger and increases the risk of the aggressor reoffending.

In 2012, Borutski received a “waiver” to attend PAR after he argued the course was held in Eganville and the court ordered him to stay away because Warmerdam worked in an office there. He did not follow the program.

It is important that high-risk offenders participate in the PAR program as soon as possible after their release from prison, according to the survey.

When Borutski was again ordered to attend the program after his release from prison in late December 2014, he said he had no transportation, but that would change. That could be considered a “reasonable excuse,” in a rural area like Renfrew County, where there are considerable distances between communities but no public transit, Pearson told the inquest.

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Borutski continued to dodge the court order. He told his parole officer that he didn’t know if he should call PAR or if the host was going to call him. He also said he suffered from anxiety and thought he would not benefit from the program. In April 2015, he suggested he would be better off taking the program at Belleville or Bancroft.

In recent years, there has been increased collaboration and communication between parole officers, police and other agencies, Pearson told the inquest, but he also pointed out that there were confidentiality issues in some cases.

The Ministry of the Attorney General has made some changes to the probation system, including embedding a liaison officer in the courts to act as “eyes and ears” for the probation service, Pearson said. Over the past two years, the province has hired 25 more front-line workers to manage the release of high-risk offenders, including domestic violence perpetrators, as well as 25 new probation officers.

There have also been a number of policy revisions, including the directive that probation officers may contact current partners of offenders to inform them of previous convictions. Sentencing for those convicted of domestic violence has also been accelerated. Those decisions must now be made in a day, Pearson said.

The investigation, which began on June 6, was to last three weeks and recommendations were to be made on Friday. However, it is falling behind schedule and recommendations may not be released until Tuesday.

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