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Accused in crime spree seeks mistrial

Clifford Barry Howdle

A 32 year old man charges with a spree of kidnapping, assault and rape in the countryside between Prince Albert and North Battleford 2½ years ago delayed his trial further Monday, telling the judge he wants a mistrial.

Clifford Barry Howdle faces 18 counts including sexual assault and confinement of a 34-year-old woman in Prince Albert, kidnapping an elderly couple and sexually assaulting the elderly woman, as well as kidnapping and sexually assaulting a third woman near Wilkie.

He is also charged with four counts of assault with a weapon — a gun and a knife — break and enter to commit theft, theft of a motor vehicle, escaping lawful custody and unlawful possession of a firearm.

All of the charges relate to a series of events that occurred over a 36 hour period in May 1999. No date has been set for the trial to continue.

The case began in May with an unusual twist — Crown prosecutor Sandeep Baines tendered all of the Crown's evidence in one day by reading aloud a statement of facts agreed on between himself and defence lawyer Darren Hagen, and playing videotaped statements from the victims.

The trial was then delayed until November by a defence request for more time to prepare.

When it returned to court Nov. 13, the trial was delayed again because Howdle had dismissed Hagen and needed to apply for legal aid. Justice Mona Dovell issued a sweeping publication ban which extends to information presented at all previous court appearances.

She lifted the ban temporarily when Howdle appeared in court Monday, Baines said in an interview. Most media outlets were not in Battleford for the hearing because of the publication ban.

Howdle said he wants a legal aid lawyer to advise him but prefers to speak for himself in court, Baines said. The Legal Aid Commission has not yet decided if he qualifies.

Howdle also claimed he has already been sentenced for the crimes he is currently facing, though Dovell reminded him he has not yet been convicted, Baines said.

Howdle had signed and agreed to the facts read at the start of the trial, but he told Dovell Monday that some of the information it contains is untrue, Baines added.

Howdle's next court date will be set during a conference call on Dec. 21, when he, Dovell and Baines will discuss legal aid's decision and the necessity of a mistrial hearing.


Convicted rapist charged with 17 offences from 36 hour spree

A Weyburn man, Clifford Howdle, 30, who had just completed half of a seven-year jail term for sexual assault and unlawful confinement, is in jail awaiting hearings on 17 charges after he allegedly broke his parole on May 17-18.

Howdle had been sentenced on Oct. 26, 1995, in Weyburn provincial court after he pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault on two females and unlawful confinement of the second female. Court ordered that he serve at least half of his sentence before he could be eligible for parole.

He had been granted parole on April 15 of this year, and had been an inmate at the minimum-security facility at Riverbend Institution, near Prince Albert, where he had been given a job placement. On May 17, he never showed up to his job, and was caught by late afternoon May 18 by RCMP and charged with 17 criminal offences, allegedly committed in a 36-hour period.

Police allege he committed a sexual assault on a female, then broke into a farm residence. An elderly couple who lived there came home and he allegedly sexually assaulted the female, and took the couple in a vehicle. It is also alleged he went to the Wilkie area where a third female was sexually assaulted.

Altogether Howdle has been charged with five counts of sexual assault, four counts of unlawful confinement, four counts of assault including two with a weapon, possession of a firearm while prohibited, theft of a vehicle, break-and-enter and breach of parole.

He made a court appearance last week in North Battleford, and his matter was set over until Thursday when a bail hearing will be held.

Howdle had first made a request for parole last October, and was denied at the time; he tried again on April 15, and was approved in a 2-1 decision.

At the initial parole hearing in October, board members noted Howdle had completed a number of sex offender treatment programs, and that his history included a head injury from a car accident about six months before the Weyburn offences.

Howdle was arrested in Weyburn in May of 1995, after he led police on a high-speed chase through the city, ending when he struck a light pole at the King Street entrance to Souris Valley. He had sexually assaulted his former common-law wife, and then abducted his wife's friend and drove her to Manitoba and back, committing numerous sexual assaults before he was caught in Weyburn.

According to National Parole documents on the parole hearing, it was noted, The level of intrusiveness related to the offending was high. Ropes and duct tape were used to bind your second victim. Mental anguish was inflicted upon the second victim. The psychological harm inflicted can be considered little other than of major consequence.

In spite of the treatment programs he had taken during his three and a half years, parole board members said in their decision, The board is very concerned with the manner in which you present yourself with very little display of emotion. We could not determine that your presentation goes beyond knowledge. until those issues (of responsibility) are more fully addressed, the board cannot conclude that your risk could be managed in the community.

At his second parole hearing, where day parole was granted in a 2-1 decision, the approving board members said, It is apparent that you now take complete responsibility for your violent rapes.

It was also noted he had begun a relationship with a person, who appeared with him at the hearing, who has full knowledge of your offending behaviour and appears to be a strong support.

His day parole plan, approved by the two parole board members, was to continue the sex offender maintenance program at Riverbend, find employment in the Prince Albert area and continue to develop his new relationship.

The dissenting board member noted there has only been minimal programming since his October parole hearing, adding, Any attitudinal change is very recent and there has not been sufficient time for adequate internalization. I am unable to conclude that there has been significant attitudinal change since the previous denial. Given the demonstrated capacity for extreme violence without provocation I conclude risk for release is unmanageable.

Since the incident, there have been calls for a review of the parole system, and the Saskatchewan Party asked why the public was not notified of Howdle being at large.

This man is a convicted rapist. The moment he was at large, the public was at risk. This is another example of negligence in our correctional system where a criminal is given more rights than innocent members of the public, said party leader Elwin Hermanson in a statement from his Regina office.


Court hears of sex offender's rampage

BATTLEFORD, SK (CP) - A convicted sex offender released from prison on day parole used his freedom to go on a 36-hour rampage of violence that included three rapes, court heard Thursday.

Clifford Howdle has pleaded not guilty to 18 charges.

But as his trial began, Crown and defence lawyers submitted a statement of facts detailing Howdle's role in the attacks.

I know what I did was wrong, Howdle said in a police interview from the statement, read aloud by Crown prosecutor Sandeep Bains.

I don't know why I did it.

When asked by Justice Mona Dovell if he agreed to the statement of facts, Howdle said, I'm in agreement with everything, adding he was not coerced into the admissions.

The 32-year-old man slumped in the prisoner's box as the statement was read aloud and again when an audio tape of a police interview with one of his victims was played.

The woman, now 36, sat in the third row of the courtroom, weeping as the tape revealed the graphic details of her ordeal.

She told police in Prince Albert that she had befriended Howdle while he was in prison but had told him she only wanted to be friends.

She said that while driving him one morning to his job at a sawmill while he was on parole, he told her he planned not to return to prison at the appointed time and was going to rape her.

He proceeded to grab my hair and drag me out of the car, she said.

I wasn't scared of the rape. I was scared for my life.

I said no many many times, she told police.

After Howdle attacked her, he took her back to her trailer and said, I raped you this morning, I want to make love to you now.

The statement of facts also detailed how Howdle kidnapped an elderly couple and raped the wife, and then went on to rape a third woman.

Howdle was arrested in May 1999 near Wilkie, SK, after he failed to return to the Riverbend Institution, a minimum-security facility in Prince Albert.

He had been serving part of a seven-year sentence there for sexual assault and kidnapping.

His arrest sparked outrage and prompted politicians to ask why a man convicted of two rapes would be set free four years into a seven-year sentence.

The 18 current charges include sexual assault, assault with a weapon, unlawful confinement and escaping custody.