National Post

Page URL: http://www.nationalpost.com/news.asp?f=991104/118436&s2=national

Thursday, November 04, 1999

Federal Court bans publication of Homolka's records
Suit over halfway house: Official suggests documents were released by mistake
Jim Bronskill
Southam News

OTTAWA - The Federal Court of Canada issued a publication ban yesterday on documents relating to killer Karla Homolka's bid to serve part of her sentence in a Montreal halfway house -- one day after the material was splashed across newspapers.

The Correctional Service documents were placed on the public record after Homolka asked the court to order a reassessment of her application for six months of unescorted temporary absences to Maison Therese-Casgrain.

But a court directive issued yesterday says the prison service material "must be treated as confidential."

Under the ban, no other information about the records can be published.

Homolka, 29, was sentenced in 1993 to 12 years in prison for her role in the gruesome sex killings of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. She is serving the time at Joliette Institution, a federal prison northeast of Montreal.

In the lawsuit, Homolka alleges Joliette warden Marie-Andree Cyrenne breached her constitutional rights by rejecting the bid "in a perverse or capricious manner."

The suit, filed under the name Karla-Leanne Teale, charges among other things that Ms. Cyrenne refused to provide written reasons for her decision.

The lawyer representing the federal government in the case has refused comment.

The directive concerning the publication ban was issued by Richard Morneau, a Federal Court prothonotary -- a sort of chief secretary -- in Montreal.

Homolka's lawyer, Pascal Lescarbeau, said in an interview that he did not request the ban.

The Federal Court rules state that information filed in connection with cases can be rendered confidential by the court.

A Federal Court official said the material in question was belatedly examined by registry personnel and subsequently referred to the prothonotary, who decided it should not be on the public record.

"We should have, perhaps, examined the material a little more closely," said the official, who asked not to be named.

According to the directive, it will remain confidential unless "an order to the contrary is obtained by any interested party" in the case.

Homolka and her former husband, Paul Bernardo, kidnapped, assaulted and murdered Leslie Mahaffy, 14, of Burlington, Ont., in 1991, and Kristen French, 15, of St. Catharines, Ont., the following year.

Bernardo is serving two concurrent life sentences. Homolka, who testified against Bernardo, pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Copyright Southam Inc.