A repeat sex offender on a long-term supervision order from Ontario who was living in a federal facility in Chilliwack was acquitted this week after trial on a breach charge when duct tape was found in his room.
After a series of sexual assault convictions and other offences involving women from 1988 to 2006, Bradley Priestap was living in London, Ontario, in 2012 near what is now Western University.
In 2013, the serial prowler and sexual voyeur was found guilty of 12 of 16 charges he faced, according to a London Free Press article at the time. In 2015, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for terrorizing several female Western students by peering in windows, climbing fire escapes, rattling handles of students’ homes, and even entering women’s rooms.
In convicting Priestap, the London Free Press reported that Superior Court Justice Thomas Carey called Priestap’s testimony “ridiculous,” “convoluted, rambling,” and “borders on the laughable.”
As part of that sentence, he was put on a 10-year long-term supervision order (LTSO).
Since March of 2020, Priestap had been living at the Chilliwack Community Correctional Centre, a 31-bed federal halfway house home to high-risk offenders reintegrating into the community.
As part of the restrictions on his most recent LTSO, Priestap was forbidden from possession of a number of items he has been found with in the past while offending against women. Among the items police consider part of a “rape kit” that he was banned from possessing are rope, handcuffs, binoculars, masks, zap straps and duct tape.
On Aug. 25, 2020, Priestap was found with duct tape in his room, he was arrested and charged with breaching his LTSO.
He was at Surrey Pretrial until his trial in April, but he was acquitted of the breach in Chilliwack provincial court on May 14. The Crown had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the duct tape was Priestap’s and he intended to possess it, knowing it was an LTSO violation.
While he was acquitted and released on May 14, Crown counsel John Lester told The Progress that Priestap is no longer living in Chilliwack, but he could not say where he relocated to.
• A prowling precedent
One of Priestap’s crimes now serves as a precedent in law with regard to the offence of “prowling” or trespassing at night.
Section 177 of the criminal code describes trespassing at night this way: “Every person who, without lawful excuse, loiters or prowls at night on the property of another person near a dwelling-house situated on that property is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.”
Priestap was convicted in 2002 after a woman taking laundry off a clothesline spotted him hiding near her deck. He was arrested and found with a balaclava, duct tape, binoculars, two flashlights, a tape recorder, a camera and a phone book in his car, according to the London Free Press.
“He claimed he was looking for illegal marijuana grow operations for the police.”
In 2005, his conviction was overturned on appeal, but on April 19, 2006, the Ontario Court of Appeal reinstated the conviction, which helped set out the law on prowling.
In a summary of R v Priestap it was determined that the Crown does not have to prove the accused had an intention to commit a “specific evil act.”
“Inherent in prowling was the implication that the accused was up to no good. The act of prowling itself was an unwarranted invasion of property which section 177 was intended to protect against.”
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