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Jack Knox: Two years after Proctor murder, relatives campaign for Kimberly's Law

Oct 19 2012
School picture of Kimberly Proctor 

School picture of Kimberly Proctor

Photograph by: Files , timescolonist.com

When she learned of the cyberbullying of Amanda Todd, Linda Proctor couldn't help but think of the two teens who murdered her granddaughter.

"They bullied her on the Internet."

Then the boys lured Kimberly Proctor to her death in part by texting that they wanted to explain why they had been tormenting her.

It was two years ago next week that Kruse Wellwood and Cameron Moffat were convicted of brutally killing their 18-year-old classmate in March 2010.

Next week is also when Linda Proctor and her daughter Jo-Anne Landolt, Kimberly's aunt, will be in Ottawa as Canada's controversial Youth Criminal Justice Act amendments take effect.

While there, they want to get Justice Minister Rob Nicholson thinking of a law that would force treatment of the likes of Wellwood and Moffat when they show warning signs of being a danger to others.

The two women call it Kimberly's Law.

"We're trying to prevent problems, not just deal with them after the fact," Linda says.

What she wants is a mechanism in which treatment would become mandatory when a youth shows the kind of behaviour that raises a red flag - bullying, or abusing animals, for example.

In the case of Wellwood, 16 at the time of the killing, and Moffat, then 17, it was obvious that they were deeply disturbed, Linda says. "Kimmy knew there was something wrong with these boys." They were cruel to her, were nasty to other kids, were into some sick stuff. The Langford girl told Linda that both teens had been nice to her before, but were now bullying her. Linda told her to stay far away from them.

That was a week before the murder.

Since that time, the Sooke school district, RCMP, Vancouver Island Health Authority, Ministry for Children and Families and others have signed a protocol that allows teams of professionals to be called in when kids show threatening behaviour - the idea is to open the door to help.

Linda says that's a step in the right direction, but Kimberly's Law would go beyond that (think of being not just shown the open door, but pushed through it).

Just how far the law could go entails balancing individual rights and the protection of the community, says lawyer Troy DeS-ouza, who has been working with Linda and her daughter. He talks not only about mandatory counselling for troubled teens, but about such measures as transferring some cases to adult court and reducing the frequency of annual parole hearings. He hopes to take proposals to the federal and provincial governments within a couple of months.

DeSouza, narrowly defeated when he ran for the Conservatives in the May 2011 federal election, became involved after encountering Linda Proctor at a packed all-candidates forum in Langford's Isabelle Reader Theatre.

Fighting nerves and emotions still raw just weeks after the sentencing of Kimberly's killers ("My knees were shaking when I was up there," she says), Linda demanded to know why so little is done to intercept troubled kids before it's too late.

It was after the election that DeSouza approached the family, offered to take up their cause.

"He's done it out of the goodness of his heart," Linda says.

DeSouza's Conservative connections can't hurt. Neither can the link with Nicholson who, after hearing Landolt's story at a Canadian Centre for Child Protection function in May, invited the Lower Mainland woman to appear in Ottawa on Tuesday when tougher youth-crime provisions take effect.

Those measures are meant to see more violent and repeat young offenders jailed, and more youths in those categories kept locked up before trial. The changes also force the Crown to consider seeking adult sentences for youths convicted of the most violent offences, and require courts to consider lifting the ban on naming those convicted of violent crimes.

The amendments are controversial. Last week, the United Nations committee on the rights of the child declared the reforms to be "excessively punitive for children and not sufficiently restorative in nature." In Canada, critics say there's no need to toughen the law at a time when youth crime continues to fall.

Linda Proctor, left only with the memory of her granddaughter, can be forgiven for not feeling that way.

jknox@timescolonist.com

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