The suspect in four random and violent incidents within a span of 45 minutes on Vancouver’s west side last week has been arrested and released again – just five days after he got out of jail.
Best Prince, 22, was arrested on September 14 and charged with assault with a weapon and two counts of uttering threats.
Prince is accused of striking a woman in the leg with a chain on a bus near Broadway and Granville streets before threatening to hit a man and then threatening two other people with a concrete block near Broadway and Vine streets.
After a brief foot chase through Kitsilano, Vancouver police said they took the suspect into custody at Connaught Park.
Prince was released on Sept. 15 less than 24 hours after his arrest.
On Sept. 20, Prince was arrested on the University Endowment Lands and accused of breaching an August 24 release order with only one condition: not to attend the University Endowment Lands.
Prince was released again on Sept. 21 – his third release from custody in less than one month.
“The trend is to release people unless you can show there’s a likelihood the person is going to commit a criminal offence,” former B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal told Global News Friday.
Oppal, now a lawyer with Boughton Law, said judges must decide whether to release someone based on the material they are presented with, including recommendations from both the prosecution and defence lawyers.
Oftentimes, he said, if an accused has no criminal record, it may be difficult for the Crown to convince a judge to keep the person in custody.
Court documents list an Edmonton address for Prince, who has no criminal convictions in B.C..
Prince was charged with theft, uttering death threats and obstructing a peace officer for allegedly stealing two food delivery packages from a UBC student residence on March 13.
“Obviously what’s happened here is there’s been a mistake made because the person shouldn’t have been out,” Oppal told Global News. “But human behaviour is also difficult to predict so I’m not going to criticize the judge.
When asked if he would push for chronic offender legislation with regards to bail so people get the help they need before being released, B.C. Premier David Eby said the province has pushed the federal government to reform Canada’s bail laws.
Bill C-48, which would include “reverse onus” – leaving it up to accused violent repeat offenders to prove why they should be released – passed unanimously in the House of Commons Monday.
“I will be headed to Ottawa with colleagues to press and ensure that it makes it through the Senate as quickly as possible, there will be some meetings with senators because reform is certainly needed in this area and is overdue,” Eby said.
Oppal said the number of people suffering from mental illness or addiction issues is a real problem, and mandatory treatment should be seriously looked at.
“If we really want to cure all this we need to treat those people who are drug addicted or mentally ill,” said Oppal.
“In the meantime, they inflict a lot of personal harm on people who are innocent and have been victims of crime.”
Vancouver police believe mental health was involved in last week’s violent crime spree.
Prince must abide by nine release conditions – including no contact with his alleged victims, not possessing any knives or other weapons, and attending a “psychiatric intake, assessment, or treatment program through Forensic Psychiatric Services,” as directed by his bail supervisor.
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