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B.C. child-killer’s attempt to keep new identity secret draws widespread outrage

Click to play video: 'Schoenborn revelation prompts B.C. Premier David Eby to revisit name-change rule'
Schoenborn revelation prompts B.C. Premier David Eby to revisit name-change rule
WATCH: More fallout Thursday from the news child killer Allan Schoenborn has changed his name. As Rumina Daya reports, it's prompted the premier to promise a re-examination of the rules. – Apr 18, 2024

The revelation that a notorious B.C. child-killer has changed his name and is seeking to keep his new identity secret has drawn widespread condemnation.

A review hearing for Allan Schoenborn, who killed his three children in Merritt, B.C., 16 years ago, revealed Wednesday that Schoenborn legally changed his name in February.

“It’s obvious to all British Columbians that nobody should be able to evade accountability for their criminal activities by changing their name in this province,” Premier David Eby said Thursday.

Click to play video: 'Child killer Allan Schoenborn changes name'
Child killer Allan Schoenborn changes name

“I think it’s absolutely outrageous that someone who has murdered children wants to be able to change their name, the public doesn’t know about it and it is done on the sly,” added Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

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Schoenborn was found not criminally responsible for the killings due to a mental disorder and has been living at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam since 2010. He is able to leave, unescorted, for up to 28 days but is fearful he will be recognized and has applied to have his new name kept off documents relating to his file.

Schoenborn is not the first notorious killer to try and distance themselves from their past with a new name. Karla Homolka, Kelly Ellard and Vince Li all have new names, though all identities are in the public realm.

“Any adult can change his or her name,” said criminal lawyer Ravi Hira, K.C., who is not connected with the case.

“A name change isn’t a right not to be known for what you have done.”

Under B.C.’s Name Act, any adult, even killers, can change their name. The public has the right to apply for the release of that identity, but it’s not guaranteed.

“The registrar must give you the new name unless the registrar can show that it’s in the public interest not to release the name,” Hira explained.

Schoenborn’s name change became a topic of political sparring on Wednesday when Eby called out the opposition BC United party’s leader for amendments to the Name Act when Kevin Falcon was the Minister of State for Deregulation in 2002.

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“One of those key provisions that was deregulated was a requirement that when you change your name in British Columbia you have to publish the name change so that the public is aware of it so that it is not secret,” Eby said.

“That requirement was required in 2002, and given these revelations from the Schoenborn hearing, we will be looking at reestablishing that because it is not acceptable to British Columbians.”

Click to play video: 'Review hearing for child-killer Allan Schoenborn being held in Coquitlam'
Review hearing for child-killer Allan Schoenborn being held in Coquitlam

Andrew Reeve, Falcon’s press secretary, fired back on social media platform X, calling Eby’s claim “disingenuous.”

“The publication of names was moved online from the old-timey BC Gazette & that online access was later limited to ‘qualified applicants’ on (the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner’s) recommendation to protect women fleeing violence.”

However, the 2002 changes to the Name Act went further than that.

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Along with moving the publication of names online and restricting access to ‘qualified applicants,’ the amendments repealed a section of the old Name Act that required would-be name changes to publish their intent in a local newspaper.

“A person intending to make an application for a change of name must, before making the application give notice of that intention by publishing, within the period of 2 months prior to filing the application with the director, a notice including the person’s present and intended names in one issue of the Gazette and in one issue of a newspaper circulating in the district in which he or she is resident,” reads the repealed Section 6 the act.

Click to play video: 'B.C. child killer Allan Schoenborn granted unescorted leave'
B.C. child killer Allan Schoenborn granted unescorted leave

Hira said the newspaper measure was in place “so that people would know” someone was changing their name.

“A name change isn’t a right to cover up what you have done,” he said.

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Global News opposed Schenborn’s application for a publication ban on his new name, and the BC Review Board ruled in the broadcaster’s favour.

However, the identity remains protected pending a judicial review.

Schoenborn’s hearing was adjourned Wednesday after an outburst on his part, and when his lawyer told the Review Board he would no longer appear in front of its current panel, claiming the body was being unfair to his client.

— with files from Rumina Daya

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