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10 Of Canada’s Most Violent ‘Dangerous Offenders’

by Amanda
fact checked by Jamie Frater

In 1976, Canada abolished the death penalty. A year later, the dangerous offender (DO) designation was added to the Criminal Code of Canada. These provisions were implemented to deal with especially heinous, high-risk, repeat offenders, usually sex offenders. The court believed that these criminals were more likely to relapse if they were released back into society, putting the safety of the Canadian public in jeopardy.

People labeled dangerous offenders are given indefinite prison sentences, meaning that as long as the court believes they are a risk to public safety, they will remain locked away behind bars—often for the rest of their lives. In the rare event that a dangerous offender is released, they are placed on parole and closely monitored until their death.

While many Canadians support the dangerous offender provisions, some see it as a violation of the Canadian Charter Of Rights because once the prosecution seeks DO status, the onus is placed on the offender to prove to the court that they are not dangerous. Some also consider it wrong that in addition to being punished for the crimes they have committed, they are kept behind bars because the court believes they will reoffend, thus punishing them for crimes they have not committed.

According to Correctional Service of Canada, 486 offenders had been given DO status as of 2013. Of those, only 18 were released back into society.

10John Murray Melanson

1- John Murray Melanson
John Murray Melanson was born in Saint John, New Brunswick. His childhood was a difficult one. At the age of approximately seven, he was sexually abused. This abuse continued for 10 years and, according to a psychiatrist who interviewed Melanson, caused him to develop an unhealthy attraction to young boys.

In the early ’80s, Melanson became estranged from his family. He moved away and joined the military, where he was employed as a cook. After leaving the military, he began a career as a chef, frequently moving from city to city. With his nomadic lifestyle, likable personality, and remarkable ability to gain people’s trust, it was easy for this predator to find his victims.

Though Melanson is homosexual, he kept his sexual orientation hidden, often pursuing relationships with single mothers to gain access to their children. He frequently played on these women’s sympathies by telling them he’d become a widower when his wife was killed by a drunk driver. He was also often hired as a babysitter, giving him the opportunity to prey on the children left in his care.

In 2006, Melanson was living in Hay River, Northwest Territories, where he was considered an upstanding citizen and had affectionately been nicknamed “Fester” by the locals. Like in previous cities he’d lived in, he was often hired as a babysitter. One of the fathers who hired him to watch his two young boys became suspicious after noticing that his children exhibited unusual sexual behavior after being left alone with Melanson. He started his own investigation into the matter, and immediately called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) when he found child pornography on Melanson’s laptop.

Melanson, 48 at the time, pled guilty to two counts of sexually assaulting children under the age of 10 and possessing child pornography. In addition, the prosecution sought DO status. The court psychiatrist found Melanson to be a high risk to reoffend, stating that he was narcissistic and manipulative, with antisocial traits that included lack of remorse and no impulse control. The court also took into consideration his previous convictions (more than 50), eight of which where sexual. In 2011, a Supreme Court Justice granted the application for dangerous offender status. Like all dangerous offenders, Melanson has the right to a parole hearing after serving seven years.

9Andrew Oliver Gulliver

2- Andrew Oliver Gulliver
Andrew Oliver Gulliver began displaying psychopathic behavior when he was in the second grade. He would set fires, throw feces at other children, and spray them with gasoline. He also killed animals. In addition to the violent behavior, he was sexually aggressive, often looking up the skirts of female classmates and exposing himself. Things only escalated from there.

As an adult, Gulliver devoted himself to satanism. He joined a satanic skinhead syndicate and referred to himself as a “Jew slayer.” He covered his head and face in tattoos.

In 2010, he abducted a woman and held her hostage in his home. He beat her, burned her with cigarettes, and sexually assaulted her. He was arrested after a six-hour standoff with the RCMP. In 2012, he was convicted of sexual assault, unlawful confinement, uttering threats, and resisting arrest. During the trial, three other women testified that they too had been attacked by Gulliver. It was also revealed that he’d attacked his own mother multiple times. He even sent threatening letters to a female prosecutor. The prosecution felt he posed a threat to public safety, so they sought DO status.

The court-appointed psychiatrist described Gulliver as a prototypical psychopath with a high risk to reoffend both violently and sexually. The request for dangerous offender status was approved, and the judge stated that Gulliver was a threat to the lives and safety of others with no prospect of being able to be controlled.

8Christopher Edward Newhook

3- Christopher Edward Newhook
Forty-six-year-old Christopher Edward Newhook has spent most of his life in and out of prison on 50 criminal charges. In 2010, he was finally given dangerous offender status.

The Nova Scotia resident is a member of a white supremacist group and would usually target minorities. In 1989, he viciously attacked a Vietnamese shopkeeper so badly that it left the man blind in one eye. In 1995, he attacked two black women on a bus, and he assaulted a man who asked him for a cigarette in 2000. In 2004, Newhook was once again behind bars, this time convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. Just six months after being released, he stabbed a man in the eye over a rent dispute.

During his dangerous offender hearing, he threatened the prosecutor, telling her that he wished he could cut her head off with a rusty hacksaw. Newhook was charged and pled guilty to intimidating a justice court participant.

The defense opposed the dangerous offender application, requesting that Newhook instead be considered a long-term offender. Under that designation, he would serve his sentence and then be monitored for 10 years after his release. However, the judge granted DO status due to his long history of violence and the threat he posed to the community.

In 2014, Newhook attacked a fellow inmate, stabbing him in the neck with a shank. As a result, he’s been indefinitely isolated from the other inmates.

7John Oughton

4- John Oughton
John Oughton, also known as the “paper bag rapist” because he forced his victims to wear a bag over their heads while he sexually assaulted them, is one of British Columbia’s most notorious sex offenders. It’s believed that he assaulted over 100 women and children from 1977 to 1985.

His preferred victims were young girls between the ages of 10 and 15. He would usually abduct his victims two at a time, often luring them with the lost puppy ruse. In what can only be called a sadistic act, he would often force his two victims to choose which one he would sexually assault. When he did target adult women, he ensured that they had a child with them, giving him leverage in making it harder for them to refuse. In 1987, he was found guilty of 14 sexual assaults but admitted to having committed around 150.

As a dangerous offender, Oughton has the right to a parole hearing after serving seven years of his sentence. After that, he’s eligible for parole every two years. A day before his 2011 hearing, he agreed with the psychiatric report that he was a high risk to reoffend and withdrew from the hearing. He has been denied parole at every hearing, with the assessment being that he’s untreatable.

6Leo Teskey

5- Leo Teskey
In November 2000, apartment manager Dougald Miller found Leo Teskey sleeping in the hallway of a building he owned. Miller tried to get him to leave. Instead, Teskey viciously attacked Miller, crushing his skull, breaking both his nose and his jaw, and partially detaching one of his ears. The senior citizen was left in a vegetative state, unable to speak, stand, or feed himself. His only means of communication is through blinking.

Teskey has nine previous violent convictions, including tearing the penis off the two-year-old son of a woman he was dating and shooting a police officer.

In 2002, Teskey was convicted for his attack on Miller and declared a dangerous offender. He appealed both his conviction and DO designation. The Supreme Court granted a new trial. Once again, Teskey was found guilty. In 2010, The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld his dangerous offender status. The judge stated that Teskey was on the high end of psychopathy and that he posed a serious threat to society.

In 2012, Teskey was convicted of selling drugs in prison and sentenced to an additional five years.

5Thomas Svekla

6- Thomas Svekla
Thomas Svekla’s reign of terror began in 1988, when he was just 17 years old, and it would only come to an end when he was arrested in 2006.

In the summer of 1988, Svekla knocked on the door of a female friend asking her for help, saying that he’d injured his hand in a fight. Once inside the home, he chased her down the hall, threw her to the ground, and began choking her. He then attempted to sexually assault her but stopped when she told him that her family would soon be home. Svekla threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone.

Soon after, bodies of mutilated and decomposed prostitutes began turning up in fields in Edmonton, Alberta. The RCMP created a task force called Project Care. In 2004, police finally confirmed everyone’s suspicions: They were looking for a serial killer.

Although suspected in the deaths of as many as 12 prostitutes, Svekla was only ever charged with the murders of two—his girlfriend, 36-year-old Theresa Innes, and 19-year-old Rachel Quinney. When interviewed by police, he stated that he had found Innes already dead and was only transporting her body for a proper funeral. He claimed the same thing with Quinney, stating that he’d discovered her body and promptly called police.

In 2007, Svekla was found guilty of second-degree murder in Innes’s death but was acquitted of the charges in the murder of Quinney. During their investigation, police discovered that he had previously sexually assaulted the foster daughter and biological daughter of a former girlfriend, and they were able to charge him for those offenses as well. In 2010, he was given dangerous offender status.

Earlier in 2015, the remains of two women—Delores Dawn Brower and Corrie Renee Ottenbreit—were discovered. Svekla was once considered a suspect in their disappearances. The RCMP refused to comment about Svekla specifically but announced that they were eliminating suspects one by one.

4John Greene

7- John Greene
Thirty-year-old John Greene is a violent repeat offender with a lengthy criminal record. Some of his convictions include threatening his neighbor with an ax, stabbing a cyclist, firing a Roman candle at a woman, and beating an ex-girlfriend so badly that he shattered her sinus cavity. Her face was left partially disfigured from the attack.

In May 2014, a seven-year-old girl was playing in the hallway of her apartment building when she was approached by Greene. He was able to lure the young girl to his apartment, where he savagely beat her and sexually assaulted her. Greene thought he had killed the child, so in an attempt to destroy the evidence, he poured bleach on her body. If not for his girlfriend returning to the apartment because she had forgotten her keys, the little girl would have died. The girlfriend, hearing crying coming from the apartment, went upstairs to investigate. She found the girl covered in blood. After a physical confrontation, Greene fled the apartment. His girlfriend brought the little girl to her mother and the two women called the police.

Greene was charged and pled guilty to attempted murder, abduction, sexual interference, and three counts of breach of probation. The prosecution was also seeking DO status.

While in prison, Greene has remained violent, throwing cups of his urine at corrections officers, masturbating in front of them and even assaulting security during his dangerous offender psychological evaluation.

The judge granted DO status, saying that Greene “cannot be cured of being a psychopath. It’s simply who he is.” As he was leaving the courtroom, Greene threatened the family of the young girl whom he’d attacked, saying, “I’m going to get you back.”

3Johnson Aziga

8- Johnson Aziga
In the 1999 case R. v. Cuerrier, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that people who knowingly expose or infect others with HIV through unprotected sex could be charged with a crime on the grounds that failure to disclose one’s HIV status to a sexual partner constitutes fraud. Additionally, several Canadian courts have ruled that people who are not informed that their sexual partner is HIV-positive cannot truly give consent, thus making it a case of sexual assault. While others have been charged with sexual assault after this ruling, Johnson Aziga has the designation of being the first person in Canada to be charged with first-degree murder for knowingly infecting women with HIV.

Aziga was born in Uganda but later moved to Canada, where he worked for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1996. After his diagnosis, he had unprotected sex with 11 women, failing to disclose that he was HIV-positive. Seven of the women later became infected, and two died of AIDS-related cancer.

Aziga was arrested in 2003 and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault, and one count of attempted aggravated sexual assault. Aziga was charged with first-degree murder because, under Canadian law, any death resulting from aggravated sexual assault is automatically first-degree murder.

After several delays, the precedent-setting trial began in 2008. He was found guilty on all counts. In 2011, Aziga was declared a dangerous offender. He refuses to take responsibility for his actions, stating that while he did have unprotected sex with these women and failed to disclose his HIV status to them, he cannot be sure he gave them HIV. He further told the court that he did not disclose his diagnosis due to sociological and ethnocultural barriers, and he feels that he’s being punished for having a medical condition.

2Renee Acoby

9- Renee Acoby
Renee Acoby is one of two women currently incarcerated and deemed a dangerous offender. Unlike other dangerous offenders whose history of violence earned them DO status upon their convictions, Acoby earned her dangerous offender designation for her violent actions behind bars.

Acoby’s childhood is one of violence and heartbreak. As a teen, she made a shocking discovery: Her father had beaten her mother to death with a tire iron when she was just six months old. With this news came the realization that the woman she had thought was her mother was actually her grandmother. The young girl soon spiraled out of control. She became defiant and angry and began lashing out. She was diagnosed with a conduct disorder and placed in foster care several times. She began to drink and use drugs.

In 2000, the pregnant 21-year-old was sentenced to three and a half years for assault with a weapon and drug trafficking. After the birth of her daughter, Renee was transferred to a facility in Saskatchewan so she could take part in the mother-child program which allows inmates to keep their babies with them in prison.

In 2001, she was caught using drugs. As a result, her baby was taken from her and placed in her sister’s care. Determined to be with her daughter, Renee attempted to escape the facility but was caught by a guard. She then took the guard hostage, demanding her daughter back.

In total, Acoby has orchestrated six hostage situations involving guards, fellow inmates, a nurse, and a therapist. Although all of the hostage incidents were violent in nature, the worst one happened in 2005. Acoby and a fellow inmate tortured a nurse and a counselor for several hours. They slashed the victims with a broken mirror, burned them with cigarettes, and force-fed them antipsychotic drugs. Acoby was declared a dangerous offender in 2011. The court psychiatrist stated that she had an antisocial personality disorder with narcissistic traits and meets the criteria for being a psychopath.

In 2015, Acoby lost her bid to have her DO status removed. Due to her violent nature, she has spent most of her time in segregation. Acoby has written a blog about her experiences in segregation, which you can read here.

1Clifford Olson

10- Clifford Olson
Though his crimes happened in the early ’80s, the mention of the name Clifford Olson still makes most Canadians shudder. From November 1980 to July 1981, Olson savagely murdered 11 children, earning him the nickname “The Beast of British Columbia.”

The first victim was 12-year-old Christine Weller. She was abducted on November 17, 1980, and her body was found on Christmas day. She had been stabbed multiple times and strangled. Ten more victims would follow, six of them in the month of July. Three of his victims were boys and eight were girls. Their ages ranged from nine to 18. While all of the victims were drugged, their manner of death varied. Some were stabbed while others were bludgeoned to death. Some had also been sexually assaulted and sodomized.

Olson was arrested on August 12, 1981, on suspicion of attempting to abduct two girls. During police questioning, the RCMP began to suspect Olson of the 11 child murders. Though he was charged with the death of one of the victims, Judy Kozma, police had little evidence against Olson in the other murders. Due to the pressure to make an arrest, the RCMP struck a deal with Olson: If he confessed to all 11 murders and aided in the recovery of the remaining bodies, he would be paid $30,000 for the first four victims and $10,000 for each subsequent victim. This would later become known as the “cash for bodies” deal. Olson agreed to the deal and offered up information about the last victim as a freebie to police. The money was placed in trust for his wife and young child.

In 1982, Olson pled guilty to all 11 counts of murder and was sentenced to 11 concurrent life sentences. He was declared a dangerous offender. Deemed a narcissistic, antisocial psychopath and pedophile who showed no remorse for his crimes, he was denied parole at every hearing. Olson died of cancer in 2011. He was 71 years old.

fact checked by Jamie Frater