HALIFAX — A top Nova Scotia prosecutor is questioning a parole board decision allowing the release and deportation of a convicted killer and sexual predator, saying it’s based on “hope over reason.”
Paul Carver, chief Crown attorney for Halifax, secured a rare dangerous offender designation for William Shrubsall in 2001, after proving to a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge there was a high risk the American man would commit more violent or sexual crimes.
Shrubsall was jailed in Canada 18 years ago for a series of Nova Scotia beatings which left some of the young female victims permanently disabled. He had previously been convicted in the beating death of his mother in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
In granting Shrubsall’s release on Nov. 7, the parole board noted the 47-year-old — who has changed his name to Ethan Simon Templar MacLeod — had behaved well, had completed programs to reduce his violence, had been attending regular psychological counselling and had been developing a plan for his release into the community.
However, it also said these factors “would not have been enough” for his release without the board members’ knowledge he would be deported to Niagara County in upstate New York to “face many more years of incarceration.”
According to court records, Shrubsall faced a sentence of between two-and-one-third to seven years in jail for prior sexual abuse convictions in Niagara County, and the district attorney has told the Buffalo News she also intended to prosecute him for fleeing justice 23 years ago.
However, Carver says the parole board’s six-page decision doesn’t make sense to him.
He notes Correctional Service Canada is cited in the decision explicitly stating Shrubsall hasn’t reached the point where he can be safely released into the community, and that recent psychological assessments indicate his risk to commit fresh sexual crimes “remains high.”
“Why do you (parole board members) believe that in the next two to seven years that something is going to happen to bring the risk to a manageable state? There is no explanation for that logic. None,” Carver said.
“That’s why I don’t understand it. This is the triumph of hope over reason. You have no basis in reality to draw that conclusion as far as I can tell from that decision.”
Carver said when the original application for dangerous offender status was sought in 2000, it was because “we believed this person poses such a high risk for future violence that there are going to be more crimes.”
The prosecutor argues the sole reason an inmate convicted as a dangerous offender should be released is that there is solid evidence the risks have been brought under control.
“If you’re just going to release them because you can send them off to the United States, that’s not a component of the dangerous offender scheme,” he said.
“He will be out on the street of Niagara County, New York … at some point. And if he hurts somebody then we will have failed to do what we endeavoured to do,” said the prosecutor.
Shrubsall’s criminal background is extensive.
About 30 years ago, he bludgeoned his mother to death with a baseball bat in their home the night before his graduation.
The parole board report says that he committed sexual assaults against two women. In May 1996, he fled to Canada while his trial was underway for assaulting a 17-year-old, but he was convicted in absentia.
Once he came to Halifax, Shrubsall went on a spree of violence that devastated the lives of a number of victims.
In February 1998, while robbing a retail store, he struck a female employee with a baseball bat, fracturing her skull. A few months later, in May, 1998, he attacked and sexually assaulted a female victim as she was walking home from work.
In June 1998, he met a woman in a bar and took her to a residence in a taxi. He wouldn’t let her leave his apartment, choking and sexually assaulting her.
In his oral judgment, the Nova Scotia judge said he didn’t see a “realistic prospect of controlling the threat of dangerousness and managing the risk” of Shrubsall as a regular offender, and said it was likely that he would continue to pose a risk to others that would “likely result in death, severe physical injury or psychological damage to a future victim.”
He was also described as “lacking a conscience.”
In 2002, when Shrubsall changed his name to Ethan Simon Templar MacLeod, it drew a critical reaction from the family of the British writer who created the fictional hero Simon Templar.
Simon Templar was the alter ego of The Saint, a handsome, adventurous literary creation who appeared in more than 100 books, TV shows and comic strips.
The family considered taking legal action to try and prevent Shrubsall from using the name, but found there was little they could do.
The Niagara County District Attorney office wasn’t available on Monday, a civic holiday in the United States, but district attorney Caroline Wojtaszek has told the Buffalo News that Shrubsall will be arraigned on a pending indictment of bail jumping, and will serve his sex-abuse sentence as he awaits trial.
She also told the Buffalo News site that Shrubsall could be a candidate for civil confinement as a sex offender.
“He’s not somebody that I think should be out of custody, ever,” Wojtaszek told the newspaper.
— Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
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