Man arrested for 4 carjackings in 3 days in Victoria a heated topic at B.C. legislature

Man arrested for 4 carjackings in 3 days in Victoria a heated topic at B.C. legislature
One of the vehicles involved in the carjacking and crash on April 22 is shown.

The man accused of a three-day carjacking rampage in Victoria remains behind bars, but the question of why he was released not once, but twice, is ringing out from the legislature.

“David Eby was the attorney general for five and a half years, and he oversaw what we call a catch and release justice system that’s not going after the prolific offenders,” said Kevin Falcon, leader of the opposition BC United, at a press conference.

B.C. Attorney General Niki Sharma says her government is always on the lookout for changes that need to be made, but the interventions they’ve made around repeat offenders are already showing results.

“If that person is causing harm, they’re detained and Crown is more successful in that detention,” said Sharma.

It all started Sunday with an attempted carjacking. Seth Packer, 22, was arrested that day, marking the first time he’s been criminally charged in B.C., which is behind why Victoria Police first released him.

“This individual was not known to the Victoria Police department,” said Victoria Police Chief Del Manak on Wednesday.

“Somebody who has no other outstanding charges and no record, they’re not likely to be held in jail for many months waiting for a trial with respect to the theft of a car,” explained criminal lawyer Michael Mulligan.

Just the next day, on Monday, April 22, police say Packer was back at it, allegedly stealing Asha Makwana’s Tesla, crashing twice, before trying to carjack someone else.

But despite Crown prosecutors asking for Packer to remain behind bars, a judge released him on house arrest.

“This is a challenge for police, Crown, and judges, at the end of the day, is trying to predict future behavior,” said Mulligan.

Upon release on Tuesday, April 23, Victoria Police say Packer broke into a home before trying to steal his fourth vehicle in 72 hours.

“That doesn’t mean the decision, at the time, was not the correct one,” said Mulligan.

The lawyer says what’s at play is the presumption of innocence, something that’s foundational to the Canadian justice system, and warns against any knee-jerk reactions from our politicians.

“We need to resist the temptation that we can solve our criminal justice system difficulties by forgetting about trials and immediately commencing with punishing people,” he said.

“If we want to have the presumption of innocence we can’t do away with the bail system and simply hold everyone who’s accused of a crime in jail, because as we know not everyone is found guilty of the crime police think they’ve committed,” said Mulligan.

Packer will remain in custody until his next court appearance May 14.


Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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