The District of Metchosin is working with William Head Institution to improve communication to the public in the event of another escape, according to Metchosin Mayor John Ranns. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

The District of Metchosin is working with William Head Institution to improve communication to the public in the event of another escape, according to Metchosin Mayor John Ranns. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Langford mayor left with questions nearly two months after Metchosin prison escape

Stew Young says community concerns and anxieties need to be addressed

Langford Mayor Stew Young said he is left with many questions and no answers nearly two months after inmates escaped William Head Institution in Metchosin and a man was found murdered in the community shortly after.

“The questions I’m getting are when’s the next one? Is the risk still there?” Young said. “And I can’t answer them.”

On July 7, James Busch and Zachary Armitage escaped from William Head, a minimum-security institution in Metchosin. They were re-captured two days later in Esquimalt when an off-duty RCMP officer recognized them as they commented on his dog.

Busch is serving an indeterminate sentence for second-degree murder and assault. He has also served sentences for aggravated sexual assault, escape lawful custody and other offences.

Armitage is serving a sentence of 13 years, 10 months for robbery, aggravated assault and other offences.

On July 12, Martin Payne, 60, was found dead in his Metchosin home, less than 10 kilometres away from the prison. Three days earlier, his truck was found in Oak Bay by police. Police have determined foul play in Payne’s death and said the public is no longer at risk. Police said persons of interest have also been indentified.

The inmates escaped William Head around 6:45 p.m. and staff discovered their absence later that night, according to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). However, the public was not made aware of the escape until about 6:20 a.m. the next day, when corrections officials posted an alert on Facebook. A few hours later, West Shore RCMP put out a news release.

READ ALSO: Metchosin working with William Head to improve communication after prison break

Young said residents are concerned about the length of time it took for them to be notified about the escape. They have also told him they are concerned about the offenders that are being placed in a minimum-security prison. He said many have begun to link the inmate’s escape to the murder of Payne, although details about the homicide have not been released.

“I know there’s an active police investigation and they’re going to withhold certain facts but the general public has to have their concerns and anxieties addressed,” Young said.

Young has reached out to the RCMP, Correctional Service of Canada and federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale for answers, but has come up empty so far.

“Regardless of how this investigation turns out I want a statement from the federal government that there will be no more of those types of offenders at that prison,” Young said. “Or at least a guarantee that if there’s another escape, they’re not the types of people that would go out and murder…we don’t want our community to be the risk takers here.”

The community also needs to be assured that monitoring of inmates will be better, Young said, calling for some sort of alarm or the use of newer technology to account for inmates and where they are. If another escape occurs, Young said the public should be notified sooner.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said he met with the warden at William Head to work out a better way to notify residents of incidents in the future.

READ ALSO: RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

A spokesperson from the CSC said the investigation is still underway and that an investigation team is on site.

As for which offenders are brought to the institution, the spokesperson said the CSC’s approach is founded on the assessment and identification of offender-specific risk and needs. An individual correctional plan establishing things like the level of intervention to meet the offender’s needs and to manage risk is also compiled.

Additionally, a security-level review is conducted to assess the most appropriate level of security for an inmate.

Monitoring of inmates and their activities in a minimum security facility includes staff supervision, routine security patrols and formal counts throughout a 24-hour period.

“The environment of a minimum-security institution is intended to develop an offender’s capacity to operate with minimal monitoring,” the spokesperson said. “This plays a very important role in the process of reintegrating offenders back into the community and helping them become law-abiding citizens.”

Young said community members continue to ask him about the escape and the murder, worried about their safety, and he is frustrated that he cannot answer them. He said it’s on the government to let people know high-risk offenders won’t be placed in a minimum security prison in a “family community.”

“They don’t have to talk about the investigation…but what can they say to make sure the people of that community feel safe?” Young said. “Where is the assurance that this will never happen again and they’ll make sure there’s a good vetting program in place and proper security?”

READ ALSO: RCMP identifies persons of interest in murder of Metchosin man

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny business

Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 bunnies across the Island, mainland

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Coroner Andy Watson confirmed the death of a man in Chemainus Monday night.
Coroners service looks into death at Victoria encampment for poeple who are homeless

BC Coroners Service confirms death occurred at Royal Athletic Park Jan. 23

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

Most Read