High-risk sex offender located, arrested in Surrey
High-risk sex offender Darren Wheatley was arrested in Surrey on Tuesday, the day after missing curfew at the Vancouver halfway house where he lives.
This is the second time in just less than a year that Wheatley has missed curfew and triggered a police search.
In March 2014, a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest was issued, charging him with breaching court-imposed release conditions. On that occasion, Wheatley was located in Kelowna two weeks after leaving his halfway house in Vancouver.
On Tuesday, Wheatley’s second disappearance ended at a drop-in centre at Keys Housing and Health Solutions in Surrey. People inside the centre recognized Wheatley and called the RCMP.
Wheatley is a two-time federal offender currently serving a 10-year sentence for two counts of sexual assault, one count of sexual assault causing bodily harm, and two counts of overcoming resistance by choking.
Each of those counts stems from one of three separate attacks Wheatley committed on adult women in Ontario.
Wheatley’s sentence began in 2005, and is scheduled to end in August. Although he’s considered a high risk to reoffend, he has been allowed to serve part of his prison term in the community, where he is subject to monitoring by local police.
Vancouver police Sgt. Randy Fincham said “monitoring” means different things for different offenders. His department works closely with the corrections system and the staff at local halfway houses to ensure that offenders do not violate the specific conditions placed on their release, he said.
Wheatley was in a supervised facility where he was allowed to come and go during the day but required to return in the evening, Fincham said. Monitoring, in his case, meant that police were informed immediately when Wheatley didn’t return, and warned the public of the situation.
“Fortunately, we don’t see it very often,” said Fincham of offenders violating the conditions of their release. “When it happens we take it very seriously, especially in a case like this when we think public safety is at risk.”
But B.C. NDP justice critic Mike Farnworth told CTV News the province should be doing more to monitor such situations.
“Its very concerning when you see someone who walked away last year and a year later is doing the same thing,” Farnworth said. “Frankly, those are not minor infractions in my view.”
Farnworth said he’d like to see the province use better electronic monitoring devices to keep tabs on sex offenders.
“We’ve got to have the best electronic monitoring that we can possibly have,” Farnworth said. “For example, Alberta has GPS-based electronic monitoring. We don’t use that here in British Columbia. Theirs is a much better system.”
If B.C. does implement new monitoring procedures or technologies, Wheatley might someday be affected by them.
As a result of this latest incident, Wheatley’s parole has been suspended. He’s headed back to prison to finish the rest of his sentence.
When he’s released in August, he’ll be subject to court-ordered supervision by the Correctional Service of Canada for an additional 10 years.