Warrant issued too late to prevent sex assault: manager
Jon Woodward, ctvbc.ca
Published Thursday, July 21, 2011 11:27AM PDT
Authorities in Surrey should have acted more quickly to hunt down a violent fugitive before he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in a White Rock park, a recovery house manager says.
It took four days after Dardan Elbasani fled his court-appointed residence at Vision Quest Recovery House before a warrant was issued to arrest him, and that's too long, said Jim O'Rourke, who runs the house.
"If he was stopped and seen earlier, that wouldn't have happened, and this woman wouldn't be a victim," O'Rourke told CTV News.
The day after the warrant was issued, a woman jogging in Southmere Park in White Rock was sexually assaulted, and police now believe that Elbasani is the culprit. His whereabouts are still unknown.
Surrey RCMP say they attended the recovery house the day Elbasani was reported missing, and were on the hunt early, but it was the paperwork that was delayed because it wasn't clear if Elbasani's alleged crimes would escalate.
"All those events weren't related in terms of having to ID a serious offender," said Cpl Drew Grainger.
Police say Elbasani is a drug addict, and since May he has been charged with uttering threats to one woman and assaulting another woman in the women's washroom at the Peace Arch Hospital.
He had been accused of breaching probation before, on a robbery conviction in 2008, but he disputed the accusation and a judge wasn't satisfied he had actually breached the condition.
Still, when Elbasani was released before trial to the recovery house, he was watched closely.
"He had anger issues, he was angry," said Dave Young, the house manager at the Vision Quest branch in Surrey where Elbasani had been released on June 1. "He was angry at himself, like most of us are for what we've done to people."
Young said on June 11 he found Elbasani with steroids in his bedroom, which would be a breach of Elbasani's bail conditions. Young said that confrontation may have caused him to flee.
"It was a fair amount; it looks like it was freshly used," Young said. "There was juice spilt on the bag; it looked like he had just did it."
Elbasani fled that night, he said. The house contacted police via a fax, and officers attended that day.
However court records show it wasn't until June 15, four days later, that a warrant was issued for Elbasani's arrest.
The next morning, police believe Elbasani sexually assaulted the jogger.
"The accused approached her violently, threw her to the ground, and attempted to perform a sexual act using violence," Grainger said. "She was injured, but she managed to escape."
O'Rourke says in other situations, arrest warrants have been written within hours.
"If they had issued the warrant on the 11th, he wouldn't have got that far," said O'Rourke. "People know him."
Either way, police say that Elbasani is a danger to the public and should be avoided. Grainger said if anyone knows Elbasani's whereabouts, they should hand that information to the police.