Residents of an Esquimalt, B.C., neighbourhood are on edge after learning a convicted sex offender, who was released on bail one day after an alleged break-in attempt at a woman’s home, is living in their community.
“It was a complete surprise because I did know him enough to go ‘What, who, serious? Wow!” neighbour Jim Zakreski told Global News Sunday.
Around 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, witnesses told police a woman screamed for help as she saw a suspect try to enter her home through a bedroom window.
“She confronted the man,” said Const. Cam MacIntyre of the Victoria Police Department.
“He did not attempt to flee, he attempted to enter the window. She was able to avoid him getting into her home, obviously terrified.”
Neighbours nabbed the suspect as he tried to flee and held him until police arrived, Zakreski said.
Henry Mario Hueving was arrested and charged with assault and trespassing or prowling at night.
The 63-year-old, who has convictions dating back to 2004 for kidnapping in Esquimalt and sexual assault in Tofino, was ordered released by a provincial court judge on Aug. 24.
“It doesn’t seem right in that he’s right across the street from her,” said Zakreski.
Zakreski, who hosted a community meeting with the mayor and police after the alleged incident, said Hueving is known as the neighbourhood handyman.
“Basically, the police said he has every right to be at his house here, and he’s on kind of like a house arrest.”
Hueving must abide by six release conditions, including no contact or communication with the alleged victim and a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“When it comes to bail, the presumption is always in favour of release,” criminal lawyer Sarah Leamon told Global News.
“Detaining a person in pre-trial custody is actually the exception to the rule.”
Leamon said the courts will consider three factors when determining whether bail is appropriate: the accused’s flight risk, risk of reoffending, and whether releasing someone would undermine public confidence in the judicial system.
“If they can craft conditions that will satisfy all those three grounds, then the person will be released.”
On Sunday, a woman who identified herself as Hueving’s spouse told Global News she had no comment on the charges.
When asked if the community was safe, she replied, “How do you know he even did it?”
Neighbours told Global News the alleged victim has left town because the suspect is living directly across from her.
Meantime, they’re banding together and ramping up the Neighbourhood Watch program.
“We realized that the police can only do so much,” Zakreski said.
Hueving’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 15.