The release of a convicted killer on bail in Kelowna landed in the B.C. Legislature on Monday.
BC Liberal MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano Karin Kirkpatrick raised the issue of Tyler Newton during Monday’s question period after Castanet News reported Saturday he was released from custody with the consent of Crown prosecutors.
“A complete indictment of the incoming soft on crime premier's broken system,” Kirkpatrick said, asking B.C. Attorney General Murray Rankin “why was Tyler Newton's right to reoffend more important to this NDP government than the right of the community to be safe?”
During a bail hearing Friday morning, Newton was granted bail by Judge Lisa Wyatt. He was last released on bail on Sept. 8, and he failed to show up to his next court date just six days later.
A B.C.-wide warrant was issued for his arrest, and police found and arrested him in downtown Kelowna on Oct. 7 thanks to several tips from the public.
Newton has a long criminal record, but his current outstanding charges stem from an incident alleged to have occurred on West Kelowna's Cameron Road on Dec. 31, 2021. He's facing charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and use of an imitation firearm.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2016 for fatally stabbing Caesar Rosales on Kelowna's No. 8 bus on the evening of Oct. 30, 2014. The stabbing was completely random and unprovoked, and a psychologist later determined Newton had been suffering from drug-induced psychosis at the time.
Newton was handed a seven-year sentence, but with credit for time served, his sentence expired in December 2020. The Parole Board previously called his criminal history “appalling” and his previous community supervision history “abysmal.”
Responding to Kirkpatrick’s question Monday, Attorney General Rankin said the government shares her “frustration with this horrific act.”
“We share the understanding that this cannot continue. And we are taking concrete steps to address it not just within the prosecution service, which as a member knows is an independent branch of government making daily decisions,” Rankin continued.
He said there have been “unintended consequences” of federal bail reform in 2019 that B.C. is working with the feds to address.
Rankin was referring to the changes in 2019 that aimed to bring the bail regime closer in line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states one must not be “denied reasonable bail without just cause."
Rankin said they are also working with local governments to address the causes of crime.
Kirkpatrick responded by calling on the NDP government to “issue a directive to Crown prosecutors, that puts the rights of community safety ahead of the criminal’s right to reoffend.”
Rankin said they are “examining all concrete measures” and programs “that might make a difference.” The province is working on responding to 28 recent recommendations made in a report on prolific offenders in B.C.
with files from Nich Johansen