Woodstock police chief wants tougher sentences for child abductors
More than four years after the abduction and murder of Tori Stafford, Woodstock’s top cop took to Parliament Hill, calling for tougher sentences for those who commit similar crimes.
Police Chief Rodney Freeman testified Thursday before a Senate committee hearing on a private member’s bill calling for a minimum sentence of five years in all child kidnapping cases.
The bill would include exceptions for cases where the abductor is a parent or other caregiver of the child.
“We’re dealing with some very evil people,” he testified.
Freeman said no case in his 35-year policing career affected him as much as the Stafford case.
“I have never dealt with number one, a victim so innocent as Victoria Stafford and number two, two offenders so evil as McClintic and Rafferty,” he told CTV.
Currently, there is no minimum sentence for kidnappings unless they involve organized crime or weapons.
Also testifying Thursday was Christian Bergeron, who was abducted as a four-year-old but, unlike Stafford, found before it was too late.
“A five-year minimum is very little to compensate for a life broken,” he said.
Senators noted that improvements made to the Amber Alert program since Stafford’s abduction have helped prevent similar crimes, but an advocacy group for missing children says an unintended consequence of those improvements could be kidnappers receiving lighter sentences because they wer prevented from committing further crimes.
“Would our courts show leniency because the stranger did not have time to harm this child?” said Pina Arcamone of the Missing Children’s Network.
The bill under study, sponsored by Conservative MP David Wilks from B.C., has passed through the House of Commons and two of three readings in the senate.