Maple Ridge man guilty of luring a child

Maple Ridge resident Shawn Yerbury is under house arrest until July 2012. He got an 18-month conditional sentence for a guilty plea.

A Maple Ridge man convicted of luring a child via the Internet is banned for the next decade from parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, schools and any areas where children are present.

Shawn Collin Yerbury was handed the 10-year prohibition last month after he pleaded guilty to one count of communicating via a computer to lure a child under 16.

A charge of possession child pornography was stayed.

Yerbury, 40, was charged with the offence last year after a police investigation.

In addition to the decade-long prohibition, Yerbury was given an 18 month conditional sentence which includes being under house arrest for the first 12 months. He has a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. for the remainder of his sentence.

Neighbours of Yerbury however are questioning why police and the courts have not made the public aware of his conviction. Yerbury’s Facebook account still remains active but has not been used since he was sentenced.

Neil MacKenzie,a spokesperson for B.C.’s criminal justice branch, said Crown is not involved in public notification. Those notification are usually made by Correction Canada or police.

Ridge Meadows RCMP confirm that the detachment is aware of Yerbury’s conditional sentence and will be monitoring him.

RCMP said public notification are made on a case by case basis. Police rely on reports that assess whether a person is a “high risk to reoffend” or an imminent danger.

Yerbury’s information will also be entered into Canada’s sex offender registry. The registry however is not public and only accessible to the police.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which operates cybertip.ca, supports community notifications as a way to increase public safety, especially if an offender has been convicted of a crime against a child.

There is a different threshold when it comes to children, said Signy Anrason, director of Cybertip.ca, a national tipline dedicated to combating the sexual exploitation of children.

“We have an obligation to protect children who are obviously the most vulnerable section in our society,” she added.

“Notifications are important for parents to receive so that they are aware and in the know about individuals in their community who may be at risk of harming kids.”

In Canada, a “conditional sentence” supervisor, similar to a probation officer, monitors offenders under house arrest or serving sentencing in the community.

But Anrason notes it’s impossible for police or supervisors to keep track of their movements 24/7.

“Resources are always an issue,” said Arnason. Knowing how serious it is – particularly if it’s a case that involves kids – it is important to raise community awareness, so we are not relying on police per se to manage safety in these regards.”

Critics of community notification however say they are not in the public or the offenders best interest. They say treatment and community support reduce the risk of re-offending for the majority of sex offenders. The John Howard Society believes notification constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and instigate vigilante justice.

MORE CONDITIONS

Yerbury is prohibited from owning a computer or any electronic device that connects to the Internet. He is not allowed to possess pornography.

He is also forbidden from volunteering or seeking employment where he may come into contact with children.

Yerbury must also perform 100 hours of community service once his house arrest ends. The conditional sentence will be followed by three years of probation.

CYPERTIP

Cybertip.ca has played a role in the removal of at least 23 children from abusive environments. At least 75 arrests have been made in connection with Cybertip reports.

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