Once again, a convicted sex offender is paroled into Surrey, and once again, a Surrey mayor is expressing outrage.
For those in the mayor’s chair, this scenario has become a rite of passage.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum demanded on Friday that the RCMP release information about the “Marpole Rapist” after the Now-Leader broke the news online last Wednesday that Gary Jagur Singh, who was declared a dangerous offender on June 10, 1994, would be released into the city on day parole on Jan. 9 to an undisclosed halfway house in Surrey.
“Singh is a designated dangerous offender and I am frustrated by the lack of information coming from the RCMP,” McCallum stated in a press release.
“For the safety of the people of Surrey, I believe that our residents need to be told where this prolific sexual predator is residing in Surrey. That information should be made available immediately.”
The Surrey RCMP has not done that. But Surrey RCMP Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards said he “personally advised” the mayor of the situation “on two separate occasions and provided him the information that could legally be provided to him.”
A victim’s relative had told the Now-Leader that Singh was being released into Surrey, after Victims Services informed her. McCallum stated in a press release Friday it’s “not only disturbing but infuriating to the people of Surrey” that Singh will be released here.
A Parole Board of Canada document reveals Singh, 64, has been granted day parole but denied full parole. He is serving an indeterminate sentence for four counts of sexual assault with a weapon, eight counts of break and enter with intent, three counts of robbery and seven counts of sexual assault.
“The Board notes that experts in your case have advised that your sexual deviancy can never be cured, but it can be managed,” the document states.
Singh had, between January 1988 and August 1991 “sexually offended against” 11 victims who were strangers to him. Three were forcefully taken off the street and assaulted in darker, secluded areas while the other eight were attacked in their apartments, where they had been sleeping when he broke in.
While McCallum has habitually capitalized on crime – be it homicides, shootings or the release of criminals into this city – to slam the Surrey RCMP, which he is set on replacing with a city-made police force, his concerns in this case echo similar protestations of Surrey mayors who served before him.
Linda Hepner, Surrey’s mayor from 2014-18, twice voiced her ire after BC Corrections issued a public warning that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Alan Goddard had taken up residence in Surrey in February 2017 and again in October 2018, and also when child molester James Conway was released from prison into Surrey in 2015.
Hepner’s predecessor Dianne Watts, Surrey’s mayor from 2005-14, publicly expressed her outrage when Paul Callow, known as the Balcony Rapist, was released into Surrey in 2007, and when Andrew Aurie Jefferson, known as the Falconridge Rapist, was released to a Surrey halfway house in 2011, and when rapist Raymond Lee Cassie moved into Surrey in 2013, and when BC Corrections revealed in 2014 that high-risk sex offender Narinder Wasan would be living in Surrey.
McCallum has also been here before. Last May he vented his frustration with the release of Earon Wayne Giles – one of a pair of Newton’s “Tag-Team” rapists – into Surrey from prison. In that case, the Surrey RCMP had issued a public warning but refused to reveal where Giles would be residing, or even if it was in North Surrey or South Surrey.
Sometimes, these releases are inconsequential. Sometimes, the offender gets yanked back into prison on a breach, as what happened to Singh in 2008. And sometimes, like in the case of Raymond Lee Cassie, someone gets killed.
The Corrections Branch put out a public notification bulletin on Caissie on June 14, 2013, revealing that the “high-risk sexual and violent offender” was “currently on bail supervision” and living in Surrey. On Sept. 16, 2014, Surrey’s Search and Rescue team found the body of Serena Vermeersch, a 17-year-old Surrey girl, near railway tracks in Sullivan. She’d been reported missing the day before, by her mom. Cassie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Meantime, Edwards, who took charge of the Surrey detachment on Jan. 6, said in response to McCallum’s protestations concerning Singh’s release that although the “limited information” police are able to provide in these cases “can cause frustration, we have a legal obligation to balance the privacy of individuals and the risk to public safety.”
Edwards said police can breach that privacy only under the “strictest of circumstances,” and in Singh’s situation, he said, “that threshold was not reached.”
Edwards said that when the Surrey RCMP was notified of Singh’s release it conducted its own assessment “that included the fulsome decision” by the Parole Board.
“Unfortunately, the threshold for a Public Interest Disclosure was not met in this situation for a variety of reasons including whether the individual posed an imminent threat, the recommended conditions, and the strong release plan approved by the Parole Board,” Edwards stated in a press release. “However, we are aware of the significant conditions in place for this individual, including electronic monitoring, and we will be monitoring this individual, along with Correctional Service Canada.”
Edwards said while he acknowledges the “frustration expressed” by McCallum, and that the Surrey RCMP does “share many of these concerns,” it is “important to recognize there is a significant process in place” by the board to “determine if and when an offender can be released into the community and the conditions they are put under.”
Edwards said he “can assure the residents of Surrey that the correct processes were followed in this situation, and that we have a team specifically assigned to monitoring these type of offenders to ensure they do not breach their conditions or impact public safety in any manner.”
– with file by Lauren Collins