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Homolka weeps as public gets glimpse of one of Canada's most hated convicts

Luann Lasalle And Nelson Wyatt, Canadian Press, Thursday, June 02, 2005

JOLIETTE, Que. (CP) - It was a rare glimpse of Canada's most notorious female convict - Karla Homolka, weeping and wearing leg irons as the details of her horrific crimes were read out to a packed courtroom.

Like every other chapter in the saga of Homolka and her ex-husband, Paul Bernardo, Thursday's hearing to determine whether her movements should be restricted once she's out of jail was a media spectacle that featured at least one courtroom reporter gazing at her through binoculars.

Homolka began blinking and breathing heavily when Brian Noble of Niagara Regional Police described the deaths of schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, the two teens whose abductions and sex slayings stunned and sickened southern Ontario in the early 1990s.

But when talk turned to her kid sister, Tammy, Homolka dabbed at her eye with her hand before wiping away tears with a tissue. She then put her face in one hand and hunched over with a sob, her dark blond hair obscuring much of her face as Noble described in graphic detail Tammy's drugging and rape - a crime that Homolka participated in and filmed back in 1990.

It was Homolka's first court appearance since she testified against Bernardo at his 1995 first-degree murder trial. She's close to wrapping up her full 12-year manslaughter sentence.

The day was largely taken up by her lawyer challenging the assertion by Ontario authorities that she will reoffend if she's let out of jail without restrictions upon her release in about a month.

Sylvie Bordelais asked Noble to prove Homolka poses a threat to the public.

"You're before the court to say she is still a danger," Bordelais said. "Apart from one report, no others are saying this woman is dangerous."

Bordelais had Noble read from about half a dozen psychiatric and psychological reports that suggested she posed a minimum risk to society.

"The likelihood of her finding a second Paul Bernardo is extremely low, although she may be attracted to traditional males," said one excerpt.

Another excerpt read out said the risk of Homolka reoffending "is much lower than the majority of offenders who have been released from the federal system."

And yet another compared her to a "concentration camp survivor."

The Crown did not outline the restrictions it is seeking but they are believed to include provisions that Homolka must report to police twice a month, give authorities four days notice before travelling to Ontario and stay away from convicted criminals.

That condition might already pose a problem for Homolka, according to the Toronto Sun. The paper reported Thursday that Homolka is in love with convicted killer Jean-Paul Gerbet, who is up for parole in 2008 for the murder of his girlfriend seven years ago.

Homolka, who wore a light-coloured jacket for her court appearance Thursday, was handcuffed as she was led into the courtroom northeast of Montreal and escorted to the dock. She had the cuffs removed but the chains around her legs stayed throughout the day, jangling at times as she fidgeted in her seat.

Noble said Homolka must face tough restrictions.

"She is well-known all over Ontario," Noble told Quebec court Judge Jean Beaulieu. "Everybody is taking about her and saying her sentence is too lenient. . . they're talking about the deal with the devil."

Noble was referring to the plea-bargain agreement the Crown struck with Homolka to secure her testimony against Bernardo, who was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the French and Mahaffy slayings and later declared a dangerous offender.

The deal was done before authorities learned of the horrific images of torture and rape caught on videotape and hidden in the couple's southern Ontario home - tapes that also cast a different light on the woman who had portrayed herself as a battered wife under the control of her violent and psychopathic husband.

"There are still many people who are angry with her in Ontario," Noble told the hearing.

Lawyer Tim Danson, who is representing the French and Mahaffy families, said he expects his clients to instruct him to intervene at the hearing.

Danson said outside the courtroom that he still doesn't buy Homolka's argument that she suffered from battered wife syndrome.

"This is a continuation of a big con," he said.

Asked about Homolka crying during the description of the deaths, Danson said: "It's a little bit late ... there is no evidence that there is any remorse. If she feels bad, it's because of the predicament she now finds herself in."

Earlier, Bordelais tried to have proceedings stopped as she argued her client's constitutional rights were being violated and that the Crown was reneging on its deal with Homolka.

Beaulieu dismissed the argument.

The hearing will resume Friday with Read More ..tnesses.

The legal tool being used by the Crown against Homolka is Section 810 of the Criminal Code, which only applies to individuals who may commit another offence or be a danger to the public.

If a recognizance is brought against Homolka in Quebec, then any movements across Canada would have to be reported to authorities.

A breach of a Section 810 order is punishable by a maximum jail term of two years.

The order itself can only stand for 12 months, giving rise to fears the courts would eventually stop renewing Section 810 orders against Homolka.

The notion of granting complete freedom to the woman involved in the deaths of French and Mahaffy, not to mention the drug rape death of her own sister, has proven unpalatable to politicians and the public alike.

Where Homolka will go after her release is still a mystery. The Montreal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grace had been mentioned but Homolka has reportedly ruled it out because it is out of her price range.

Homolka won't be getting a warm welcome from her own family. Her father Karel said he's not yet ready to rebuild his relationship with his oldest daughter.

"Someday, I guess," the senior Homolka said Wednesday from the doorway of his home in St. Catharines, Ont., when asked whether he expects to have a relationship with Karla.

Karla Homolka was never actually criminally charged in Tammy's death. The facts surrounding Tammy's demise were merely read into the record at Homolka's formal plea and added only two years to her sentence.

Nor was she ever charged in two separate sex attacks upon a young girl whose identity is protected by a publication ban.

The Canadian Press 2005

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