Man guilty of child abduction faces possibility of dangerous offender designation

Marco Castro-Wunsch is being tried after a previous conviction was overturned on appeal. (Sam Brooks/CBC - image credit)

A man facing the possibility of being labelled a dangerous offender lost his bid to withdraw his guilty plea in a child abduction case Monday.

The conviction is the latest in Curtis Poburan's record of offences against children dating back to the 1990s.

Poburan, who is in his mid-50s, previously admitted to abducting a 10-year-old boy from a west Edmonton skate park three years ago.

He also pleaded guilty to four other charges related to violating a weapons prohibition with an imitation firearm, and breaching probation conditions that said he was not to have contact with children or visit places like parks where children could be present.

But since the December 2022 court appearance where he entered the pleas, he fired his defence lawyer, and he's now representing himself.

The agreed statement of facts in the case outlines how Poburan befriended a boy at the Callingwood Skate Park in January 2021. He showed him an airsoft gun and invited him to go shooting, which they did at a nearby baseball diamond.

According to the document, Poburan took the boy with him to a nearby smoke shop a few days later and bought him a grape-flavoured vape. On Jan. 12, two witnesses called police after overhearing Poburan offer again to buy the boy a vape pen.

After Poburan was arrested, the agreed statement of facts says he outlined a scenario to police that he could "foresee" renting a motel room and taking the boy there.

Poburan has been convicted in the past for other attempts to lure young boys from public places with the promise of recreational shooting.

His criminal record includes another abduction of a child in 2016, and he was sentenced to three years in prison for for sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching in 1998.

A dangerous offender designation is reserved for the most serious violent criminals and sexual predators. The Crown is scheduled to call witnesses into next week as part of submissions to give the label to Poburan.

If the judge determines that Poburan is a dangerous offender, he could face an indeterminate prison sentence.

Attempt to strike guilty plea

Wearing an orange prison suit, Poburan took the stand Monday to tell Court of King's Bench Justice Doreen Sulyma that he wants to strike his guilty plea on the abduction charge, saying he didn't agree with it at the time but ended up doing it "to be nice."

Poburan was agitated as the hearing began, raising his voice and accusing Crown prosecutor Wendy Ekert of being "in contempt" as she described a recent assessment that concluded Poburan is fit to stand trial.

He alleged that he felt pressured to plead guilty, but didn't agree to waive his solicitor-client privilege with his former lawyer so that she could answer questions about the situation.

Poburan claimed he didn't recall parts of the day in court when he entered his plea and an agreed statement of facts was read into the record. But during questioning from the Crown, he acknowledged that he signed the document.

Sulyma ultimately dismissed Poburan's application to strike his plea.

"He was here in open court when he entered his pleas. [His former lawyer] is a qualified and well-known criminal lawyer in this city. She also very clearly, on the record, indicated she canvassed with Mr. Poburan the consequences of a guilty plea," she said.

"There is no objective evidence that would support the allegation now being made by Mr. Poburan."