Supreme Court won't hear families' years-long case over access to Bernardo documents

OTTAWA — Canada's top court says it won't hear arguments about the release of prison and parole documents concerning serial killer Paul Bernardo.

The decisionmarks the end of a years-long battle to expose confidential information used to decide Bernardo's prospects for parole.

Family members of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French have long sought the release of government records about their loved ones' convicted murderer.

The Supreme Court decision also affects a case about the disclosure of documents to the family of Const. Michael Sweet about his killer, Craig Munro.

Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board of Canada both declined to release records to the families via access-to-information requests.

The federal information commissioner, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal all rejected efforts to get those decisions reversed.

The appeal court's decision in July 2023 said the requesters sought everything "from the trivial to the intensely personal" in what it deemed a "total invasion" of the prisoners' privacy.

Bernardo is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murders of teenagers French and Mahaffy in the early 1990s and has been designated a dangerous offender.

His controversial transfer to a medium-security prison last year prompted howls of outrage and demands for changes to how dangerous offenders are treated.

The correctional service concluded all proper procedures were followed, but acknowledged that the families of the victims should have been better informed.

The federal ombudsman for victims of crime later said the transfer should be a "turning point" for more information to be shared with victims of crimes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2024.

The Canadian Press