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Sadist's Confession

UPDATE: Sadist Leopold gets 14 years

Rope spurs dangerous-offender application

The Province

Sunday, June 20, 1999.

A knotted rope at the scene of a brutal sexual assault has prompted the Crown to apply to have a Vancouver man declared a dangerous offender.

Prosecutor Colin Sweeney read some of the grisly details of the 1996 attack by Michael Leopold, a labourer who wanted to kidnap and kill prostitutes, into the record as part of the Crown's attempt to have him jailed indefinitely.

Leopold's case gained national attention because his psychiatrist, Dr. Roy O'Shaughnessy, won the permission of Canada's Supreme Court to talk to police about Leopold's fantasies.

O'Shaughnessy is expected to testify on July 19.

Sweeney told court Leopold looked for a skid-row prostitute as he drove around the downtown east side in his sport-utility vehicle.

As the sex act began in a parking lot, Sweeney said, Leopold punched the woman in the side of the head.

The pair locked in a violent struggle, with Leopold punching the woman repeatedly.

Leopold attempted to force a rubber ball into the woman's mouth several times, Sweeney said.

"The complainant felt she was losing consciousness as he continued to hit her." Sweeney told the court.

Neighbours scared the attacker off. Police found his pager and the rope at the scene, Sweeney said.

Leopold surrendered three days later and pleaded guilty to assault.

After the Supreme Court's O'Shaughnessy ruling, Leopold tried to withdraw the guilty plea, but Judge Jack McGivern refused.

Defence lawyer Les Mackoff did not dispute the facts entered by Sweeney.

"I have reviewed them with my client," he told McGivern. "We are in substantial agreement."

Mackoff hired O'Shaughnessy--chairman of the forensic psychiatry division at the University of B.C.--to assess his client.

But O'Shaughnessy was alarmed by Leopold's plan to turn prostitutes into sex slaves, then murder them.

Mackoff opposed the psychiatrist's plan to tell police about Leopold, citing his client's rights to confidentiality.

However, the B.C. Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Canada sided with O'Shaughnessy.

After the psychiatrist testifies, McGivern is expected to rule on how to proceed through the dangerous-offender process.

Man not allowed to change guilty plea

The Vancouver Sun
David Hogben

Saturday, June 12, 1999.

A Vancouver labourer who pleaded guilty to viciously assaulting a prostitute has been denied permission to change his plea and now faces a dangerous-offender hearing that could put him in jail indefinitely.

Provincial Court Judge Jack McGivern ruled Friday that Michael Leopold, 37, could not change his plea, regardless of a possibly precedent-setting decision in his case.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a psychiatrist hired by the defense could reveal to the Crown Leopold's plan to kidnap, torture, sexually assault and kill a prostitute.

Leopold applied to change his plea after the psychiatrist revealed his plan and the Crown applied to have him declared a dangerous offender.

Despite the exceptional circumstances, McGivern said Friday there were no grounds for Leopold to change his plea.

"I am satisfied that the accused has made a voluntary, unequivocal and informed plea to the offence of aggravated assault," McGivern said.

The judge said there was nothing in the discussions that led to Leopold's guilty plea that would prevent the Crown from making an application to have Leopold classified as a dangerous offender once his macabre plan was disclosed.

"I am satisfied that the plea of guilty to the offence of aggravated assault must stand; therefore, the application to dismiss the plea is dismissed." McGivern said while Leopold sat calmly in court.

Leopold's guilty plea related to his attack on a prostitute in a downtown Vancouver alley in June 1996. The prostitute suffered a broken tooth and an eye injury.

Leopold was in possession of duct tape and a ball to restrain and gag the woman.

Defence lawyer Les Mackoff said the issue of solicitor-client privilege arose in the case when Dr. Roy O'Shaughnessy, the University of B.C.'s chairman of forensic psychiatry, applied to the B.C. Supreme Court to reveal to the Crown Leopold's plans to kidnap and kill another woman.

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled O'Shaughnessy could do so and in March the Supreme Court of Canada upheld that decision.

Vancouver police media liaison Constable Anne Drennan said Friday Leopold is considered a "person of interest" in the police investigation into the disappearance of more than 20 women in the Downtown Eastside since 1995.

She said, however, that investigators have found no evidence to link him to the missing women.

The Leopold case is scheduled to resume with the dangerous offender hearing June 18.


Doctor who broke privilege identified

Canadian Press

Ian Bailey

The psychiatrist is testifying in the case of his patient who expressed his desire to kidnap and kill prostitutes.

A psychiatrist who won court approval to tell authorities about a client's desire to kidnap and kill prostitutes was identified in court on Wednesday.

But Dr. Roy O'Shaughnessy chairman of forensic psychiatry at the University of B.C., declined comment on his case because he may soon have to testify against Michael Leopold.

Leopold, 37, is asking to withdraw a guilty plea he entered on an assault charge against a prostitute because the Crown now wants to have him declared a dangerous offender.

Such a declaration would mean the Vancouver labourer would be sent to prison for an indefinite term.

O'Shaughnessy, 45, was in provincial court Wednesday for a hearing on the case, but allowed to leave by Judge Jack McGivern because he was not needed for the arguments on the matter.

The hearing was adjourned to June 11.

O'Shaughnessy's lawyer, Chris Hinkson, spoke for the veteran psychiatrist, noting that his client was wary--as an experienced witness--of being at the center of leading decisions.

"He sought a legal opinion due to his concerns about public safety," Hinkson said. That was his motivation.

"On the one hand, it's somewhat of a relief to have the anonymity end, but as a responsible professional he is concerned about Mr. Leopold."

Leopold's lawyer had hired O'Shaughnessy to assess his client, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a prostitute in 1996. She was beaten in a downtown alley.

Court records show Leopold told O'Shaughnessy he planned to kidnap a prostitute, make her a sex slave and torture her for several days before killing her.

He said this would be a trial run for a larger plan to kill other prostitutes.

O'Shaughnessy felt he had an obligation to warn the Crown of Leopold's plans, but Leopold's lawyer objected, citing solicitor-client privilege.

A B.C. Supreme Court ruling, upheld in March by the Supreme Court of Canada, cleared O'Shaughnessy to tell the story about his alarming session with Leopold, who sat quietly Wednesday watching the hearing.

During the session, the Crown and defense lawyer Leslie Mackoff argued both sides of the issue around Leopold's plea.

Crown counsel Colin Sweeney said the Crown had an obligation to react to the disclosures about Leopold.

"He gambled that the information would not come into the hands of the Crown or the police based on the belief that some solicitor-client privilege would keep it under wraps," he said.

"But now it isn't under wraps,"

Sweeney submitted various materials for McGivern to consider, including photos of Leopold's victim.

Mackoff argued that Leopold acted in good faith on assumptions that are no longer valid because of changed circumstances.

"Where consequences flow that are much different than contemplated by the person that pleads guilty, that is the appropriate time to allow a withdrawal off a guilty plea," he said.

In an affidavit, O'Shaughnessy said Leopold described himself as a loner with no close friends.

He said Leopold acted out his fantasies by hiring prostitutes, primarily from Vancouver's poverty-stricken Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, and engaged them in sadistic activities.

Court has been told that Leopold prowled the Downtown Eastside, equipped with duct tape he would have used to restrain a prostitute, and a ball he would have used to gag her.

City police are reviewing unsolved sexual assault and missing persons files in light of the whole case. More than 20 prostitutes have vanished from the streets of the downtown eastside since 1995, but Leopold has not been linked to those cases.

Lawyer wants to withdraw guilty plea in sex attack

THE VANCOUVER SUN

Brian Morton

TUESDAY, MAY 18, 1999

The Crown wants his client declared a dangerous offender.

The lawyer for a man who pleaded guilty to a vicious assault against a Vancouver prostitute said Monday that he will seek to withdraw the plea at a hearing later this month.

Les Mackoff said in provincial court he wants the guilty plea withdrawn now that the Crown has indicated it will seek to have his client declared a dangerous offender.

Michael Stephen Leopold pleased guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a prostitute who was viciously beaten in a downtown Vancouver alley on June 12, 1996. If declared a dangerous offender, he would receive a mandatory indeterminate sentence--usually a lengthy prison term.

If the court reverses Leopold's plea, the matter could possibly be dealt with as a common assault, Mackoff said. Common assault carries a sentence of less than the 10-year minimum that is required for a dangerous offender classification.

The Crown is expected to produce information that Leopold confided to a psychiatrist a plan to kidnap, torture and kill prostitutes from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

A court file indicates that the 37-year-old labourer told the psychiatrist of his plan to kidnap a prostitute, make her a sex slave and torture her for several days before killing her.

The incident was to be a trial run for a larger plan to kill other prostitutes, the accused told the psychiatrist.

But he abandoned even the trial run when passers-by noticed the accused beating a prostitute. During the attack, he broke the woman's tooth and injured her eye. The court heard he had planned to tie her up and take her home and had taken along duct tape and a ball to put in her mouth.

The forensic psychiatrist, who had been retained by Mackoff to do a psychiatric assessment of his client, felt he had an obligation to pass along to the Crown the information about the accused's murder plans.

Mackoff argued the information should have been kept confidential because of solicitor-client privilege.

A B.C. Supreme Court ruling--upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada--rejected that argument.

An affidavit by the forensic psychiatrist--whose name was blacked out on court documents---states the accused described himself as a loner who has no close friends. He was a gun collector before his arrest.

The accused told the psychiatrist he acted out his fantasies by hiring prostitutes, primarily from the Hastings Street area, and engaged them in sadistic activities. He usually chose women who were drug addicts and were often roughed up by customers, he said.

"Causing them pain was a requirement for his sexual gratification," the psychiatrist noted.

The matter returns to court May 26.


Sadist's confession

The Province

By Helen Plischke and Andy Ivens,
Staff Reporters

Unsolved cases under review after kidnap and torture plans exposed

Police are reviewing all unsolved sexual-assault and missing-persons files in light of a man's confession to his psychiatrist of detailed plans to kidnap and kill prostitutes.

The confessions had remained a secret between the man, his lawyer, and the psychiatrist until last week, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the man had no right to client-solicitor privilege because of the danger he posed to prostitutes.

The man, known only as Mr. Jones, was free on bail from September 1996 to December 1997.

At least five downtown eastside prostitutes disappeared in 1997, and a total of 21 have vanished since 1996, say Jamie Lee Hamilton, director of Grandma's House Society, a support center for prostitutes.

Const. Anne Drennan said police weren't aware that the man was released in September 1996 after pleading guilty to aggravated assault of a prostitute.

Nor was the department aware of the continuing court battle over revealing the man's confessions, she said.

"We are in the dark about this entire matter and in fact have been provided with no information other than that which has been in the media," she said.

Drennan said the Crown is reviewing the original charge against Jones and police are considering alerting the public by releasing his name.

"We will be meeting with Crown as early as Monday," she said, adding that the original investigator in the case will probably be called in to help review the files.

Hamilton and others are calling for the police to release the man's name and circulate his photo in the downtown area.

"It's not acceptable to be protecting his privacy,"Hamilton said.

"The attorney-general is going to have to step in.  This is very, very serious.  This person is potentially a serial killer."

Women may come forward with information if police circulate a photograph, said Deb Mearns, co-ordinator of the Downtown Eastside-Neighborhood Safety Office.

Les Mackoff, Jones's lawyer, said Jones is in custody.

In an affidavit, the psychiatrist, known only as Dr. Smith, says Jones told him his early life was a "horror show."

Jones said he learned that the German immigrants who he grew up believing were his parents were his grandparents.  His "sister" was his mother.

He described sadistic fantasies, which started early in puberty because of his exposure to hard-core pornography left in the motel his "parents" owned.

Jones, who cleaned the rooms when he was 12 and 13, kept the smut--depicting bestiality, bondage, domination and rape.

He told the doctor of hiring Hastings Street prostitutes for sadistic sexual acts.

"Causing them pain was a requirement of his sexual gratification," Smith said.

Court allows breach of doctor-patient privilege

Vancouver Sun

Friday, March 26, 1999

Neal Hall-Sun Court Reporter
Southam News

If the admissions of a client present a clear danger to others, confidentiality may be displaced, Supreme Court justice decides.

A Vancouver psychiatrist had the right to breach doctor-patient confidentiality after a patient admitted he planned to kidnap prostitutes, torture them as sex slaves and then kill them, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday.

In lifting a cloak of secrecy that surrounded the case, the nation's high court decided psychiatrists hired by lawyers may reveal an admission that a patient is planning serious harm or death to someone.

In a 6-3 decision, the court upheld the original 1997 decision by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alexander Henderson, who ruled public safety of women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside superseded the duty of confidentiality.

In making the ruling, the high court lifted a sweeping publication ban on details of the case, which was argued in Ottawa last October under pseudonyms; Dr. John Smith vs. James Jones.  The names of the psychiatrist and his client were not released Thursday.

(The B.C. trail judge had allowed the use of pseudonyms and holding an in-camera hearing because "the administration of justice would be rendered impractical by publicity or the presence of the public at the hearing.")

Only twice in it's 124-year history has the Supreme Court of Canada imposed such secrecy around a case.

The high court also ordered the unsealing of B.C. court documents, obtained Thursday by The Vancouver Sun.

Henderson's original decision states that disclosure to Crown and police "is not only permissible, but mandatory in these circumstances."

The duty of doctor-patient confidentiality is intended to encourage each party to give full and frank information, the judge noted.  But the duty has never been regarded as absolute and the doctor-patient relationship is displaced when a doctor receives information that a patient will likely cause death or serious bodily harm to someone, Henderson found.

Jones, a labourer in his mid 30s, was charged in 1996 with aggravated sexual assault of a prostitute, who had been paid for oral sex on Sept. 14, 1996.

He had assaulted the woman and attempted to tie her up, breaking her tooth and injuring her eye as she struggled, which attracted the attention of passers-by in a lane, causing Jones to flee.

His Vancouver lawyer, Les Mackoff, referred him to a psychiatrist, Smith, hoping it would help in preparation of the defense or with submissions upon sentencing in the event of a guilty plea.

During the interview with Smith, the accused described in considerable detail his plan to abduct, sexually assault and kill prostitutes.  Jones revealed had modified his basement apartment to ensure no one else could enter.  He called the initial assault a "trial run" to see if he could live with torturing and killing the woman.  If so, he planned to kill others.

He had brought along rope, duct tape and a ball to put in her mouth.  He planned to strangle his victim, place her body in a utility trailer, then drive to a bushy area and bury her.

He admitted he began experiencing deviant sexual fantasies at puberty and violent rape fantasies in his 20's, which were triggered by his large collection of hard-core pornography.

The psychiatrist told Mackoff the accused was a dangerous person who would likely re-offend unless treated.

Jones later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.  But in a follow-up phone call to the lawyer, Smith learned his serious concerns about the accused would not be addressed in the sentencing hearing.

Smith then went to court seeking a declaration as to whether he was required to disclose the information about Jones in the interest of public safety.

Mackoff argued the diagnosis was part of solicitor-client privilege because he had been hired by the defense.

The high-court ruling clarified the issue of when solicitor-client privilege can be breached.

"The solicitor-client privilege permits a client to talk freely to his or her lawyer in the knowledge that the words and documents which fall within the scope of privilege will not be disclosed," wrote Justice Peter Cory for the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada.

"Yet when public safety is involved and death or serious bodily harm is imminent, the privilege should be set aside."

The court found the danger posed by Jones to be clear, serious and imminent; he was on bail at the time he was interviewed by Smith.


Court file on accused reveals plan to murder prostitutes

Vancouver Sun

March 30, 1999

Neal Hall
Sun Court Reporter

The Crown is reviewing a court file concerning a man who confided to a psychiatrist that he planned to kidnap, torture and kill prostitutes in the Downtown Eastside area of Vancouver.

The material is expected to be used at a sentencing hearing next month for a man who pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a Vancouver prostitute who was viciously beaten in a downtown Vancouver alley on June 12, 1996.

The name of the accused has been blacked out in a court file ordered unsealed this week by the Supreme Court of Canada, but The Vancouver Sun has learned the man's name is Michael Stephen Leopold.   He is to be sentenced April 28 in Vancouver provincial court.

The 37-year-old labourer admitted to a psychiatrist he had planned to kidnap the prostitute, make her a sex slave and torture her for several days before killing her.

The murder was going to be a "trial run" to see how things went.  If all went well, he planned to kill other prostitutes, the accused told the psychiatrist.

But the trial run went wrong when passersby witnessed the accused beating the prostitute, so he fled.   During the attack, he broke the woman's tooth and injured her eye.  He planned to tie her up and take her home and had taken along duct tape and a ball to put in her mouth.

The forensic psychiatrist, who had been retained by defense lawyer Les Mackoff to do a psychiatric assessment of his client, felt he had an obligation to pass along to the Crown the information about the accused's murder plan.

The psychiatrist began a court action to seek direction about whether he had the right to breach doctor-patient confidentiality.

Mackoff argued the information was confidential because of solicitor-client privilege, since the psychiatrist had been retained by the defense.

The case was heard using pseudonyms---Dr. John Smith vs. James Jones---by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alexander Henderson, who decided in 1997 the need to protect the public from imminent danger superseded doctor-patient confidentiality.

"I find that disclosure by Dr. Smith is not only permissible but mandatory in these circumstances," the judge concluded.

The matter was appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal and most recently to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld Henderson's ruling.

The nation's highest court, before ordered the B.C. Supreme Court file unsealed, imposed a publication ban on the case.

An affidavit by the forensic psychiatrist---his name is also blacked out on court documents---states the accused described himself as a loner who has no close friends.  He was a gun collector before his arrest.

He characterized his family history as a "horror show," noting he found out when he was 11 that his "parents" were actually his grandparents and his "sister" was his mother, the psychiatrist was told.

His real parents, now retired, were from Germany and ran a number of motels, where the accused found pornographic books and magazines left behind by customers.  his deviant sexual arousal fantasies later developed into fantasies of bondage, domination and rape with violence.

"Later these fantasies evolved to fantasies of killing the victims, primarily to cover the evidence of his crime," the psychiatrist noted in his affidavit.

He said the accused married in his mid 20s, but the marriage failed and his anger toward his wife probably fueled his sadistic fantasies, which involved inflicting pain on his victims.

The accused told the psychiatrist he acted out his fantasies by hiring prostitutes, primarily from the Hastings Street area, and engaged them in sadistic activities.  He usually chose women who were drug addicts and were often roughed up by customers, he said.

"Causing them pain was a requirement for his sexual gratification," the psychiatrist noted.

The accused is reportedly in custody awaiting sentencing and wants to get treatment.

Killers on the Loose
A comprehensive book on unsolved serial
murders includes a chapter on the Vancouver
disappearances
.

  

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016