The release of a violent offender with 51 convictions sparked debate in the B.C. legislature on Oct. 24, about what the opposition calls “catch and release” and “soft on crime” NDP government policies.
Karin Kirpatrick, MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano and official opposition critic, stood up during question period to ask why Tyler Jack Newton, a man who is convicted of manslaughter for an unprovoked fatal knife attack in 2014, was once again released from prison.
“Every day there is another catch-and-release horror story. Tyler Newton is a violent prolific offender,” said Kirpatrick.
In 2016, Newton was sentenced to 4.5 more years behind bars on top of the half credit for the 602 days he had already served for fatally stabbing Caesar Rosales in Kelowna.
Newton was then arrested in September 2022 for aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. He was then released and when he failed to appear for a court date, triggering a province-wide warrant for his arrest on Oct. 6.
BC Prosecution Service confirmed that on Oct. 21, Newton had his release set at $500 “with conditions designed to ensure the safety of the public and the justice system participants.”
The Kelowna court registry said that the conditions of his release include a no-contact order with the alleged victim of the assault, the requirement to live at a pre-determined address, which they called a “halfway house”, a curfew, no weapons, no drugs or alcohol, travel restrictions, that the requirement that he reports to his supervisor, and attends all court dates.
Kirpatrick said that parole documents show that Newton has “blatantly and repeatedly disregarded release conditions,” and is a high-risk offender with a history of breaching parole.
Hon. Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, responded with the issues surrounding repeat offenders are the “unintended consequences of the bail reform act of 2019.”
The bail reform act of 2019 stems from Bill C-75, where bail provisions were updated in Canada’s Criminal Code, allowing for “principle restraint” to be used by police and courts to ensure that “release at the earliest opportunity is favoured over detention” and with less strict bail conditions according to rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Kirpatrick said that the opposition is calling on the NDP to issue a directive to Crown prosecutors that puts “the right of the community’s safety ahead of the criminal’s right to re-offend.”
Rankin said that the NDP government is working to reinstate programs that had been cancelled by the former government and are currently implementing programs that were suggested by an independent review board.
Rankin added that the provincial government is working with municipal and federal agencies to deal with “not just the crime but the causes of crime as well.”